Kerala Governor criticises controversial citizenship law with disclaimer

While making his annual speech at the Kerala assembly on Wednesday, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan paused for a second and made a surprise announcement.

“I’m going to read this para because the Chief Minister wants me to read this. Although I hold the view this doesn’t come under policy or programme. Chief Minister has said this is the view of government, and to honour his wish I’m going to read this para,” he said.

The speech was for the Budget Session of the assembly and it included the Left Democratic Front government’s criticism on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Over the last few weeks, the governor has been at odds with the state government and the opposition on the issue. The opposition has demanded that the governor be recalled following his support to the CAA and repeated criticism of the assembly’s resolution against the law.

On Wednesday, dramatic scenes unfolded in the assembly as opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) MLAs blocked the governor when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan ushered him in for presenting the policy address.

Marshals in the Kerala assembly had to form a human chain to let the governor reach the dais and deliver the speech as opposition MLAs held placards and shouted “Go Back” slogans.

Though the Chief Minister and the Speaker repeatedly tried to pacify the opposition members, they refused to relent and continued to protest against Khan. After  10 minutes of protest, marshals removed the opposition members using force and cleared the governor’s way to the dais.

As soon as the governor reached the dais, the national anthem was played but the opposition MLAs gathered in the centre of the house and resumed the slogans once it ended. When Mr Khan began his address, the opposition members walked out of the assembly hall and launched a sit-in protest at the gates of the assembly.

Last week Kerala became the first state to move the Supreme Court against the CAA, which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

People opposing the law say that it’s “discriminatory” against Muslims, and therefore goes against the constitutional fabric of India.