Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Assembly witnessed unprecedented scenes when the entire Opposition United Democratic Front led by Congress party MLAs physically blocked Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for over 20 minutes after he entered the House to address the lawmakers.
The Governor stood patiently with folded hands even as some of the Congress MLAs came too close for comfort, setting off alarm among the security staff.
Holding placards that read ‘Go Back Governor,’ “Call Back Governor” and “We the People [of] India Resist CAA,” the MLAs raised slogans even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who accompanied Khan, watched the drama.
As the stand off continued, some of the MLAs moved menacingly close to the Governor raising their fists and as the sloganeering grew louder, the Watch and Ward staff had to intervene and physically push the MLAs to make a path for Khan.
In the process, there was a melee in which some MLAs and the Watch and Ward staff fell over each other. Some of the MLAs were physically lifted to make way for the Governor.
Escorted by watch and ward personnel, the Governor finally got to the podium. The national anthem was played. Once it ended, opposition MLAs gathered in the well of the House and started sloganeering.
They then boycotted Governor Khan’s policy address, leaving the assembly to begin a sit-in at the gate.
The tricky part came next. The Governor had initially refused to read out the paragraph on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that the State Government had scripted for him.
Departing from the prepared text, the Governor said he was reading the controversial paragraph that criticised the CAA and added that he was doing so at the CM’s request. “I differ from the views expressed in the paragraph, but since the Honourable Chief Minister had said that it was the view of the state government and to honour his wish I’m going to read this para.”
The CM sat smiling and obviously relieved that a confrontation was avoided.
Later, addressing the media, the Governor dismissed the protests by the UDF lawmakers saying he had seen bigger drama and protests.
Kerala was the first state to pass a state assembly resolution against the CAA and has challenged the law in the Supreme Court. The Governor had criticised both moves and even challenged it saying he was not kept in the loop before the Government moved the Supreme Court.