LDF protest outside Raj Bhavan stokes fresh round of confrontation between Kerala Governor, Left front

The LDF Convenor did not spare the Opposition Congress-led UDF either and blamed it for allegedly not supporting development activities.


Published Sep 22, 2023 | 1:21 PMUpdatedSep 22, 2023 | 1:21 PM

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. (Supplied)

The LDF protest in front of the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, 21 September, stoked a fresh round of confrontation between the ruling Left in the state and Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.

Hours after the LDF accused the Governor of not signing various important Bills, including the important University Laws Amendment Bills, Khan hit back by saying that he would not permit the Left dispensation to control the universities in the state.

LDF Convenor EP Jayarajan, during his speech at the agitation, said that Khan, according to the saffron party’s policy, was holding on to several Bills passed by the Assembly after a lot of discussion and debate.

‘Protecting Universities autonomy’

One of the University Laws Amendment Bills, if given assent, would curtail the powers of the Governor to appoint vice-chancellors (VC) to universities.

Khan questioned why several universities in the state do not have VCs and who was responsible for stopping their appointments.

He said that the Supreme Court has made it clear that state governments have no role in the appointment of VCs and, in light of that decision, the University Laws Amendment Bills sent to him for assent were “of no value”.

He further alleged that the state government wanted to control the universities and take away their autonomy.

“I want to protect the autonomy of the universities. I have repeatedly said that it is not my job to run the universities. My job is to protect their autonomy. They (state government) want to end the autonomy and control the universities, which, as long as I am here, God willing, will not happen,” a visibly angry Khan said.

Also Read: Kerala Governor to meet four ministers to discuss pending bills

‘Holding Bills is anti-democratic’

Jayarajan, in his speech, also questioned Khan’s act of holding on to several Bills and contended that the same was “anti-democratic.”

“The Governor’s non-signing of certain Bills was according to the BJP-ruled Centre’s policies,” Jayarajan alleged and added that it was for the benefit of the people and the progress of the state that the legislature passes various Bills, but assent to many of them have been delayed by Arif Mohammed Khan.

The Governor rubbished the criticism as “irresponsible statements” and said he does not wish to respond to them. “I do not want to react to these irresponsible statements. In fact, I will say that I do not wish to respond to these irresponsible statements,” Khan told reporters later in the day.

The ruling LDF in Kerala protested in front of the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, against the Centre’s policies allegedly hindering development and progress in the state.

While accusing Governor Khan of not signing certain important Bills — including the Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill and two different University Laws Amendment Bills — passed by the state Assembly several months ago, Jayarajan claimed that the BJP at the Centre was financially restricting Kerala.

Also read: Kerala Governor Khan and government are on collision course

‘UDF obstructing development’

The LDF Convenor did not spare the Opposition Congress-led UDF either and blamed it for allegedly not supporting development activities initiated by the government in the state.

He accused the UDF of actively working to obstruct the development in the state.

Jayarajan further said, “The LDF government here has always been working for the welfare of the people in the state and its progress. It continued to do so during the last Pinarayi Vijayan administration and the present one.”

“The progress in the state due to the Left government’s efforts scares the BJP and the UDF both of whom have been seen coming together on certain causes. They both have taken the same stand of opposing progress and development in Kerala,” he alleged, before the hundreds who had turned up for the agitation.

The LDF’s state leaders and people’s representatives from Thiruvananthapuram district also participated in the protest.

Jayarajan contended that the operation of the Vande Bharat train and the construction of the Vizhinjam seaport in the state were all due to the efforts of the LDF government.

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