At the Kerala Assembly's first session this year, on 25 January, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan made an unexpected move. He read only the beginning and end of the 62-page policy address.
Tradition dictates that the Governor simply reads out the speech supplied by the state government. The assembly was abuzz, as many anticipated selective omissions in his speech. Particularly, they expected the Governor to avoid parts criticising the Union government or praising the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.
The reason? A history of disagreements.
These disagreements span various issues. They include legislative bill approvals, vice chancellor appointments in state universities, and the inclusion of non-Left members in university bodies. Tensions peaked with the Students Federation of India (SFI) protesting. They displayed banners saying "Sanghi Governor, Go Back" at the Calicut University guesthouse, where Governor Khan stayed.
Here's a overview of things the Governor didn't want to be heard saying in the Kerala Assembly.
On State Finances
"...Paramount among these is the liquidity stress stemming from the vertical imbalance between the Union and the States in fiscal matters..."
"...Kerala witnessed a decline in it's share of taxes devolved by the Union Government from 3.88% during the 10th Finance Commission period (1995-2000) to a mere 1.92% during the 15th Finance Commission period (2021-2026)."
"In 2023-24, the discontinuation of GST compensation, a reduction in revenue deficit grant, and restrictions imposed on off-budget borrowings of the State by the Union exacerbated the fiscal condition of the State."
The state government has moved the Supreme Court against the Centre on the issue and it was announced that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would lead a protest on the issue in Delhi on 8 February.
Reference To Uttar Pradesh (Without Naming It) Regarding Share Of Liquor In Tax Revenue
"It is noteworthy that the percentage of own tax revenue that comes from alcohol in Kerala (3.7%) is amongst the lowest of all states and compares very favourably with states where the percentage is as high as 22%."
The 22 per cent figure is that of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Uttar Pradesh as per a report by Onmanorama.
New Dam Downstream Of Existing Mullaperiyar Dam
"My Government is of the view that the construction of a new dam, conforming to recent standards of design and construction, in the downstream reaches of the existing Mullaperiyar dam is the only solution for protecting the safety of lakhs of people living downstream..."
The dam, built over a century ago, owned and operated by Tamil Nadu has been at the centre of a dispute between the two states. While the Tamil Nadu government holds that the dam is structurally safe, the Kerala government does not think so.
On NCERT's Changes In Syllabus
"While the curriculum reforms are progressing at the National and State levels, the NCERT excluded certain portions of the 6th to 12th standard textbooks. The main portions excluded by NCERT include Mughal History and Partition of India, Martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, Five Year Plan, Emergency, Popular Struggles in India, social conditions in India and caste system. Therefore, Kerala launched additional textbooks in humanities to ensure real historical and social awareness to the children. Six additional textbooks were released in four subjects."
The Governor appears to have chosen not to speak on this either because of the attacks against NCERT, a central institution.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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