Govt. again seeks Governor’s nod for Assembly session

The Cabinet has once again decided to seek Governor Arif Muhammad Khan’s assent to convoke an emergency session of the Assembly on December 31 to discuss the fallout of the farmers’ agitation in rice-bowl States in North India.

The Governor had turned down a similar request on December 21 because he felt the Assembly lacked the “jurisdiction to offer a solution” to the strike.

The decision had earned Mr. Khan the ire of the ruling front and the Congress-led Opposition. Both coalitions had accused Mr. Khan of playing politics and assuming intractable positions that ran against the grain of parliamentary norms and customs. In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had backed Mr. Khan’s judgment.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government hoped Mr. Khan would change his mind. He spelt out the need for the special Assembly session at an hour-long press conference here on Thursday.

The government feared the ongoing farmers’ agitation could adversely impact the State’s food security. Kerala was predominantly a consumer State. It relied heavily on food imports from neighbouring States.

Farmers were on the warpath against the Centre’s newly enacted agriculture reforms.

Kerala was anxious whether the disruption in the agriculture sector would imperil its food security. The State was not immune from the fall out of the farmers’ agitation nor the controversial agriculture laws passed by the Centre.

The emergency warranted the urgent convening of the Assembly to weigh the crisis. The Assembly also need to plot a response to the situation.

Mr. Vijayan said the Governor had no discretionary powers in the matter. He was legally bound to give his approval once a majority government decided to convene the Assembly. The Governor could not arbitrate on the topics of deliberation in the Assembly. Mr. Vijayan said the government was optimistic that Mr. Khan would give his assent.

The Raj Bhavan has not indicated how it would handle the latest request from the Cabinet. In the past, the Governor maintained that the Assembly had no mandate to evaluate the constitutional validity of the acts of Parliament.

He had opposed the move to pass a unanimous resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the Assembly. He had also chided the government for “keeping him in the dark” about the move to appeal the CAA in the Supreme Court.

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