January 25, 2024

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1.8 minutes: Governor Arif Mohd Khan ‘budgets’ his Kerala House speech, skips all but first, last paras | Political Pulse News

3 min read

Continuing his standoff with the CPI(M)-led state government, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan Thursday cut short his policy address to the Budget Session of the Assembly, wrapping up in less than two minutes.

After reading out the first paragraph addressing the Assembly, Khan jumped to the last para of the 61-page-long policy address, before winding up the speech, one of the shortest policy addresses of a governor in the Kerala Assembly marking the beginning of the Budget Session.

In his 1.81-minute-long address, Khan read out: “Let us remember that our greatest legacy lies not in buildings or monuments, but in the respect and regard we show to the priceless legacy of the Constitution of India and the timeless values of democracy, secularism, federalism and social justice. The essence of cooperative federalism is what has kept our country united and strong all these years. It is our bounden duty to ensure that this essence is not diluted. Together as part of this varied and beautiful nation we will weave the tapestry of inclusive growth and responsible resilience, overcoming all the challenges that are thrown our way.’’

While the government, which has been involved in protracted confrontation with Khan including in the Supreme Court, played down the issue, the Opposition Congress-led UDF said the Governor had insulted the Assembly.

CPI((M) leader and Law Minister P Rajeeve argued that Khan had discharged his “Constitutional responsibility”. “He read out the policy address, which was ratified by the Cabinet. There is nothing wrong in reading out the first and the last paras of the policy address.”

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At the same time, Rajeeve added: “We do not know why he opted to read only those two paras. We do know whether he has any issue. The state government perspective is very well stated in the last paragraph, which the Governor read out. The state approach towards federalism is very clear in the last paragraph.”

Accusing Khan of snubbing the House, Congress Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan said: “He has the Constitutional obligation to read out the policy address. In the address, there is no criticism against the Union government policies. What we have seen in the House is a pathetic finale to a political drama staged by the Governor and the government. The policy address does not reflect the ground realities of the state, where people are struggling to make both ends meet,” he said.

As per a PTI report, the policy address also included the Kerala government’s criticism of the Centre’s fiscal approach towards the state, noting that the state had to seek a solution to the financial impasse in the Supreme Court. “My government places the considered opinion before the Union government that Kerala should be ensured its well-deserved share in the distribution of taxes. My government views with concern the holding back of eligible grants and share of assistance in Centrally Sponsored Schemes,” the address said.

“My government is put to added liquidity stress because of the retrospective cut in borrowing limits, which is not in accordance with the accepted recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission. This stand of the Union government needs an early reconsideration,” reads the document, copies of which were distributed to the media after the Governor’s brief address.

The address further talks of the consistent decline in the awards of the successive Finance Commissions, with Kerala’s share of taxes falling from 3.88% during the 10th Finance Commission period (1995-2000) to 1.92% during the 15th Finance Commission period (2021-2026).

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