Thiruvananthapuram: The rift between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state is out in the open as the row over the protests at the Indian History Congress at Kannur University escalated.
The governor has sought reports from Intelligence Bureau and Kannur University vice-chancellor. The governor, in an exclusive interview to the Manorama News, said that he would take strict action after receiving the reports.
Hitting back, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said, "If the governor does not know the limitations of his position, he should resign and return to active politics."
With this, the political situation in Kerala has turned akin to the one in West Bengal, where the Mamata Banerjee government and the governor are at loggerheads.
Governor Khan also summoned Chief Secretary Tom Jose and voiced his displeasure over the protests in Kannur. He also sought strict action.
The governor was forced to cut short his speech during the inaugural ceremony of the Indian History Congress on Saturday after protests erupted over his stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Charges and countercharges about protocol violations were also traded.
There was protocol violation at the inaugural function of the Indian History Congress in Kannur, according to Khan, who had inaugurated the event.
He pointed out that a function attended by the governor should not last more than one hour. “However, for the first one-and-a-half hours, I patiently listened to historian Irfan Habib and another person who, incidentally, were not among the persons included in the initial list of dignitaries attending the inaugural function,” said the governor.
Khan said that he knew Habib from his student days at Aligarh Muslim University. “Habib never listens to any viewpoint other than his own,” the governor claimed.
Khan also blamed the vice-chancellor of the Kannur University for the incidents at the History Congress inaugural.
Pointing out that he had been inviting those protesting against CAA for a debate on the legislation, Khan said that nobody had responded so far. “I support CAA in its entirety. In fact, the Act fulfills a wish of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.
The governor advised the protestors to follow Constitutional values and the legal system. “Having taken the oath to protect the Constitution, I would have no option but to resign from the governor’s post in case I don’t support a law passed by the Parliament,” he said.
“On the other hand, it is my duty to defend the law if I agree with it,” added Khan, who made it clear that irresponsible statements cannot provoke him.
V-C admits to protocol violations
Meanwhile, Kannur University Vice-Chancellor has admitted that there were protocol violations at the event.
Professor Irfan Habib was not listed among the speakers at the event. Violating the protocol, two History professors entered the dais during the session when the new chairperson took over the charge from the outgoing chairperson. The Governor's office was not informed of this. The Governor's office has not sought for an explanation, but just asked for the video, he said.
Organising committee's defence
The organising committee has claimed that the entire programme schedule was shared with the Governor's office. When K Sudhakaran, MP, and Mayor Suma Balakrishnan informed that they would not take part in the event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor professor P T Raveendran and syndicate member Dr John Joseph were invited on stage with the permission of the Governor. The committee members said that even the stage arrangement in accordance to the convention of the History Congress was changed as per the instructions of the Governor's office.
Five protocol violations flagged by Raj Bhavan
1. Only one hour is normally allowed for the Governor's programme. However, since the organisers made a request for more time, the schedule had been extended to 1.25 hours. Still, the governor was invited for the speech after 1.50 hours.
2. As per the protocol, the Governor's speech is at the end. However, he was invited first at the Kannur event. When he reached near the podium, he was even called back.
3. Professor Irfan Habib gave the speech without permission. History Congress general secretary Mahalakshmi Ramakrishnan then invited two people from the audience to speak on stage.
4. Irfan Habib's attempt to stall the Governor's speech was an instance of security breach. The Governor’s ADC, who stopped him, was pushed away. Even though the security officers demanded that Irfan Habib should be removed from the stage, it was not done. Mahalakshmi too shouted at the Governor.
5. Even those sitting in the front row of the audience protested, raising placards. This is an intelligence failure.