The Budget session of the Kerala Assembly (also the inaugural session of the year), began this morning with Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan's address.
Like the first assembly session after every election, the first session of every year is also addressed by the Governor.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had earlier tried to avoid the Governor's address by not proroguing the Assembly session conducted in December 2022. During that session, a bill was passed to remove the Governor as Chancellor of state universities.
It later changed its decision and asked the Governor to officially prorogue the session.
According to political commentators, the change of heart was because Khan did not create any problems for the government when it wanted to swear in Saji Cherian as minister once again.
Cherian was forced to resign from the ministry in July 2022, after his remarks saying that 'the Constitution enabled looting people' created a massive controversy.
In October 2022, Khan had taken the exceptional step of writing to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, saying that Finance Minister KN Balagopal had ceased to enjoy his pleasure and therefore, Vijayan should take appropriate action.
This was due to Balagopal's remarks saying, “Some people who are accustomed to the practices in places like Uttar Pradesh might not be able to understand the democratic nature in which universities function in Kerala."
Khan had then written saying, “The comments made by Balagopal seek to stoke the fire of regionalism and provincialism, and if allowed to go unchecked, they may have an erosive and baneful influence on our national unity and integrity. The reported statements of Balagopal are nothing short of a violation of the oath I had administered to him”.
After this unprecedented action by Khan, the LDF was not sure whether Cherian's swearing in would be a smooth affair.
Meanwhile, the Governor's address was without any drama unlike what happened in Tamil Nadu some days back.
According to political commentators, this was because while the address did have some references to federalism, borrowing limits and the legislative power of the states, they do not seem to have bothered Khan too much.
The 33-day-long Budget session will end on 30 March.
The debate on the motion of thanks for the Governor's speech is scheduled on January 25, February 1 and 2 and Finance Minister K N Balagopal will present the budget for the next financial year on February 3.
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