As the government gears up for an ordinance curtailing the Governor's powers as Chancellor of state's universities, Arif Mohammed Khan has made a crucial move which could open another major battlefront with the Pinarayi administration.
On Friday, Governor Khan exercised his powers as Chancellor to constitute a search committee for the appointment of the next Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala University.
This move is in contrast with the manner of VC appointments in the state where the Governor usually tells the government to nominate a suitable candidate.
The proposed search committee comprises a nominee of the Governor, one nominated by the University Grants Commission and a third member, who is likely to be a nominee of the Senate of the university.
The latest development threatens to restart a tussle between Governor Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government that went on for weeks earlier this year.
The Governor had publicly lashed out at the state government saying it had no authority to control the Raj Bhavan.
"I am here to ensure that the business of the government is conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and constitutional morality," the Governor had said in February when the issue had reached a boiling point.
The tiff between the two powerhouses had even briefly put Kerala's budget session in a quandary. That was when Governor Khan refused to sign the policy address.
Even Chief Minister Vijayan had to failed to placate the Governor, who chose to play hard ball on the eve of the session.
Before that the state let the Raj Bhavan know of its disapproval over the appointment of a BJP member in the Governor's personal staff.
Last month, the love-hate relationship between the Governor and Kerala government took a fresh turn when the issue of ministers' personal staff was debated.
Governor Khan publicly opposed the payment of pension to the personall staff of state ministers.
The official list of ministers' staff provided to Raj Bhavan was 545 strong with 385 of them eligible for pension.
With about two months remaining for the tenure of the incumbent Kerala University VC to run down, it is to be seen how the state reacts to this latest move by Governor Khan.