It is now a full blown cold war between Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan Government.
It is no secret that the Governor was seriously irked by the State Government's high-profile moves against the Citizenship Amendment Act and now, by sitting on the Ordinance on the ward delimitation of local bodies, it is widely felt that the Governor was hitting back.
“If anyone thinks they are above the law, it is time they got rid of it,” the Governor told reporters here on Thursday.
The reporters wanted to know why he was delaying his approval of the ordinance on ward delimitation. “I am no rubber stamp. I need to first apply my mind on the issue,” the Governor said. The Ordinance, which seeks to redraw ward boundaries on the basis of the 2011 census, had reached the Raj Bhavan on January 4.
“I have some questions,” he said. Though he did not elaborate on the questions he had about the Ordinance, the Governor wondered why the government needed an ordinance when an Assembly session was about to begin.
Wouldn't he be obliged to give his approval if the Government returns the Ordinance, he was asked. “The Constitution does not say so,” he shot back.
The Governor's combative stand has come a day after local self government minister A C Moideen and higher education minister K T Jaleel had met him and told him of the importance of the Ordinance. The ward delimitation exercise would take at least five months.
Governor Khan also made his severe displeasure known about the manner in which the government had moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Bill on January 14. “Protocol and courtesy demanded that the Constitutional Head of the state should at least be informed about the move, leave alone seeking my approval. But I come to know of it only through the newspapers,” Governor Khan said.
Nonetheless, the Governor said he conceded the government's right to move the Supreme Court. “Like any common man in the country, the State Government can challenge a law passed by the Centre in the Supreme Court. If they were not interested in following protocol, it is fine,” he said.
Still, it was clear the Governor was not yet ready to condone the Pinarayi Government for its Supreme Court move. “I will check whether a State can move the Supreme Court without informing the Head of the State,” the Governor said.
However, he insisted that the Assembly resolution against the CAA was patently unconstitutional. “A State Assembly cannot pass a resolution on a matter that fell outside its jurisdiction,” he said. “Of course, had it been for instructional purposes, to educate the people on the issue, the Assembly could have taken up the resolution. But in that case, all sides of the issue should have been discussed,” he added.
According to him, the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan cannot be equated with those entering the country looking for economic opportunities.
When he was asked whether the government stand on CAA had provoked him to sit on the Ordinance, Governor Khan said he would decide an issue on the basis of its merit and not on any other considerations.
In fact, the Governor had recently approved an Ordinance that was sent to him later than the ward limitation ordinance. This Ordinance sought to allow Jacobite families to bury their dead in Orthodox churches in quick time.