Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan is in an unenviable situation with the state government openly defying its constitutional head in its protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. Yet the state ministers and leaders of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) have reasons to be concerned ahead of the session of the legislative assembly. The governor can refuse to echo the policy speech prepared by the government.
The government does not expect the governor to read out the parts elaborating the government’s opposition to the controversial piece of legislation. Khan could omit those references which he is not in agreement with, but as governor he does not have the authority to add to a speech prepared by the elected government. Then Khan is not a stickler for conventions.
What if he adds his own favourable opinions about the CAA in his speech to the assembly? What if he disowns an earlier resolution passed by the assembly against the CAA? The ruling front will be forced to respond to the governor in the speech by the deputy speaker. Whatever the outcome, Khan has succeeded in giving some news value to a customary speech that no one really tuned into.
We could look up to Khan for more dramatic movements when the census enumerators kick of the decadal census in Kerala from the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram as usual. Census in the state is always starts with the Raj Bhavan to make it a news and to spread awareness among the public.
The CPM central committee and the Kerala government that the party leads have decided to work with the census proceedings but they have refused to cooperate with the simultaneous exercise to prepare a National Population Register. Can enumerators shy away from asking questions related to the NPR in the Raj Bhawan? The governor is sure to remind the officials about their duty to prepare an NPR.
Khan has been struggling to counter the claims that he was asking as a puppet to the central government and the BJP in power at the centre. He even told an interviewer that he had no communication channels to the top government levels and offered to produce his phone call records.
However, the BJP’s state and central leaders are elated over the governor’s moves against the state government, though the party’s lone legislator, O Rajagopal, has other opinions. The party is comforted by the fact that their camp has got a person who can hog the media limelight as much as the chief minister.
The entire Kerala seems to be up in arms against the central government. The Raj Bhawan premises have become a permanent venue for protests. The ruling and opposition fronts differ only in one thing – who would claim the spaces thrown open by the massive popular movement against the CAA.
People’s participation in the meetings attended by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Thalassery, Kochi and Kollam holds out much promise to the LDF. The CPM is glad that the minorities are returning to its fold after the drubbing it got in last year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the United Democratic Front is working overtime. Congress district chiefs, members of Parliament and other leaders are out in the street to own the campaign. They do not want to drown in the LDF rhetoric led by the chief minister himself.
Bindu Krishna, the Congress chief in Kollam district, has covered 448 kilometres in her road show. She would be the first woman Congress leader to do so. Her counterpart in Idukki, Ibrahim Kutty Kallar, has covered 600 kilometres in a month, going to every nook and cranny of the hilly district. Add to it the road shows by the members of Parliament and the party has already walked more than 10,000 kilometres in Kerala to drum up support against the CAA and the NRC.
Congress ally Muslim League has been thrown into the world of hectic politicking and campaign ever since the NDA government passed the CAA in December. All of their allies are on the war path against the Centre.
If the LDF has planned a human chain against the CAA on January 26, the UDF has a human map to showcase its protest on January 30. The traditional rivals will join forces when the legislative assembly session starts. That is the all the more reason to focus on the Raj Bhawan, which has become the only voice in Kerala in support of the CAA and the central government.