Since he took charge as Governor of Kerala in September 2019, Arif Mohammad Khan has had a very focused guest list for his Christmas celebrations at the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram.
In the three Christmases he has celebrated in the state, Khan has only invited leaders of the various Christian denominations in the state. This, we suppose, was meant to convey the message that the Muslim Governor deputed by the BJP-RSS dispensation at the Centre sought a cordial relationship with Kerala’s Christians, who account for about 18.4 percent of the state’s population — and are crucial to the BJP’s ambitions in the state.
What was notable, however, was the fact no politician was ever invited to the party, and certainly not one from the ruling LDF in the state. Not even Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. This was somewhat surprising, as Khan and the LDF, especially Vijayan, enjoyed considerable bonhomie in the early years.
So is this year’s Christmas in the Khan household going to be any different?
Unlikely, would be the assumption, given that Khan and the LDF have been at each others’ throats for most of the year over university appointments and alleged Left nepotism.
But South First learns, much to our surprise, that Khan, apart from inviting Christian leaders as usual, is also extending invitations this Christmas to his his harshest political critics, including Chief Minister Vijayan and Opposition Leader VD Satheesan.
All state Cabinet members, including Finance Minister KN Balagopal — who recently lost the “pleasure” of the Governor for allegedly denigrating Khan’s home state Uttar Pradesh — are being invited to join in the celebrations that are slated for 14 December — a day after the current Assembly session winds up after passing a Bill to remove the Governor from the post of Chancellor of all state universities.
But this move is, apparently, not a case of Khan suddenly turning magnanimous and forgiving.
Raj Bhavan sources tell South First that this is Khan’s way of portraying the ruling LDF as graceless and petty, given that it had decided against extending the customary invitation to the Governor for the grand celebrations marking the conclusion of this year’s Onam festival in Thiruvananthapuram. An irritated Khan then chose to celebrate the festival in tribal majority Attappady, in company of the impoverished aborigine
Now it remains to be seen if the politicians accept Khan’s invitation.
Update: They didn’t.