Amid the opposition UDF’s sloganeering against him, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Friday delivered the customary address to the assembly with the policy document outlining the Left government's administrative achievements and criticising the Centre for allegedly pushing the state to financial constraints by reducing its resource allocations.
Khan, who delivered the policy address marking the budget session of the assembly, underlined the significance of "cooperative federalism" and said that in recent times, legislations by the Union government are taking place on subjects enumerated in the State and Concurrent Lists without effective consultation with the states.
"This goes against the grain of cooperative federalism. My government is of the opinion that this should not be a practice to be continued," he said.
The budget session began on a stormy note with the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front raising "go back" slogans against the governor and staging a protest sit-in at the portal of the House after boycotting the proceedings.
As soon as the governor entered the assembly hall to deliver his customary policy address, the opposition members started sloganeering and showed a banner and a series of placards, which could be read like 'Government-Governor unholy nexus' and that he signed the Lok Ayukta ordinance to protect Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Ordinance, brought in by the Left government, had kicked up a political storm in the state recently as opposition parties raised objections against it, saying it would weaken the anti-corruption watchdog.
There was speculation that Khan, who has been at loggerheads with the Pinarayi Vijayan administration on various matters, might skip portions of the policy document of the state government criticising the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.
However, the governor did not skip any such portion in his address, which was boycotted by the Congress-led UDF alleging "unholy nexus" between him and the CPI-M-led state government.
Later, Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan, while talking to reporters, accused Khan of acting like an agent of the Sangh Parivar.
When Satheesan tried to speak, a visibly irritated Khan said it was not the time for protest.
Reminding him that the leader of opposition is a "responsible person", he said they have an assembly session ahead of them where they can discuss everything.
Ignoring the intense sloganeering, he also started reading the policy document.
Detailing the financial constraints faced by the state, Khan said besides the revenue loss due to Covid, Kerala has been facing severe cut in revenue from central transfers at present.
There has been a consistent decline in the state share provided from the divisible pool by successive Central Finance Commissions, he said.
"At the time of the 10th Finance Commission, the State share was 3.8 per cent of the divisible pool. By the 14th Finance Commission, this had come down to 2.5 per cent and now the 15th Finance Commission award only permits 1.92 per cent," he said.
Stating that the Union Budget has not accommodated any long-standing demands of Kerala, he said the state government expects an early approval from the Centre for its ambitious K-Rail rail corridor project, which found no mention in Nirmala Sitharaman's recent budget.
Outlining the achievements of the LDF government, he said the state has been at the forefront of areas like sustainable development, health, general education and so on.
The state government is effectively carrying out the vaccination drive to build herd immunity against Covid-19 in the society, he said.
Enabling the citizens of the state to avail quality infrastructure for basic services of water, electricity, telecommunications and transport continues to be an area in which the state government is focusing its attention and identifying innovative projects, he said.
On the multi-crore K-Rail project, against which the opposition is leading a state-wide project, he said it would provide a new environment-friendly transport mode compared to fossil fuel-based transportation and would be a green initiative that would catalyse employment and growth while enhancing the speed, joy and comfort of travel.
Referring to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue, Khan said as Kerala is committed to providing water to Tamil Nadu while safeguarding the lives of its people, it has put forth the proposal to build a new dam in the place of the existing dam which is around a century and a quarter old.
The governor also mentioned that the LDF government intends to revise the Housing Policy 2011 and would go ahead with the proposal of preparing a new curriculum based on the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
It was significant to note that ruling members remained silent throughout his address as the usual thunderous thumping of the desks while mentioning the achievements of the government was missing this time.
It was generally viewed as a silent protest against Khan for creating high drama on the eve of the budget session by refusing to sign the policy document.
The assembly witnessed dramatic scenes a day after Governor Khan refused to sign the policy document of the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government, expressing strong displeasure over a letter written by it against the appointment of a senior journalist-turned politician in a key post in the Raj Bhavan.
The issue was resolved after the government, yielding to the governor's pressure, replaced K R Jyothilal as principal secretary, general administration department, with a senior civil servant.
It was Jyothilal who had written the letter on behalf of the government to the Raj Bhavan a few days ago citing the violation of prevailing conventions in the appointment of former BJP leader Hari S Kartha as additional personal assistant to the governor.
Leading the opposition members to rally out of the House complex later, Satheesan told reporters that the governor colluded with the Left government to carry out illegal and unconstitutional activities.
Khan yielded to the government's pressure in re-appointing the Kannur vice chancellor flouting norms and signed the Lok Ayukta ordinance despite the opposition repeatedly pointing out that the amendment was "unconstitutional and illegal", he alleged.
Though the UDF delegation requested him to send the ordinance for the President's assent, the governor colluded with the LDF government and signed it, he said.
By signing the ordinance a day before the decision on the assembly session was taken, Khan had actually insulted the House, Satheesan charged.
"For the last few days, the governor is acting like an agent of the Sangh Parivar. He is protecting the interests of the Sangh Parivar," the senior Congress leader added.
He also criticised the Left government for removing Jyothilal as principal secretary, yielding to the governor's pressure.
However, BJP state president K Surendraan came out against the UDF for raising slogans against the governor saying through the act, they brought disgrace to the people of the state.
Both the UDF and LDF were united in looting the state exchequer, he alleged, and said that the state government was pointing fingers at the Centre for covering up their own lapses and mismanagement.
The Centre allotted highest the amount of funds to Kerala during Covid time, he claimed, and said the state failed to use any of the assistance despite the GST compensation and other such aids were received on time.