"I Disagree But...": Kerala Governor's Unusual Mid-Speech CAA Disclaimer

The Kerala opposition has demanded that Governor Arif Mohammad Khan be recalled following his repeated criticism of the assembly's resolution against the citizenship law.

Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had to be escorted in by marshals.

Thiruvananthapuram:

Mid-way through his speech in the Kerala assembly on Wednesday, that he delivered after an opposition blockade, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan paused for a second and made an announcement.

"I'm going to read this para because the Chief Minister wants me to read this. Although I hold the view this doesn't come under policy or programme. Chief Minister has said this is the view of government, and to honour his wish I'm going to read this para," he said.

Prepared by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, the speech that marked the beginning of the Budget Session of the assembly included criticism of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Over the last few days, the governor has been at odds with the state government and the opposition on the issue. The opposition has demanded that the governor be recalled following his support to the CAA and repeated criticism of the assembly's resolution against the law.

On Wednesday, dramatic scenes unfolded in the assembly as opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) MLAs blocked the governor when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan ushered him in for presenting the policy address.

Marshals in the Kerala assembly had to form a human chain to let the governor reach the dais and deliver the speech as opposition MLAs held placards and shouted "Go Back" slogans.

Though the Chief Minister and the Speaker repeatedly tried to pacify the opposition members, they refused to relent and continued heckle Mr Khan.

After nearly 10 minutes of protest, marshals removed the opposition members using force and cleared the governor's way to the dais.

As soon as the governor reached the dais, the national anthem was played but the opposition MLAs gathered in the centre of the house and resumed the slogans once it ended.

When Mr Khan began his address, the opposition members walked out of the assembly hall and launched a sit-in protest at the gates of the assembly.

"I have seen worse than this when I was a member of the assembly (Uttar Pradesh)," Mr Khan said later.

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted:

"The governor is acting as a tool of the BJP and (its ideological mentor) RSS. And now Left and Governor have become bhai-bhai (brothers)," Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition, said.

Last week Kerala became the first state to move the Supreme Court against the CAA, which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. On Sunday, the ruling LDF organised a mammoth 620-km human chain as a mark of protest.

The law has been called discriminatory by the opposition which says it can be used along with the planned National Register of Citizens or NRC to target Muslims who cannot prove their lineage.

The central government, however, says the law is necessary to help those who have faced religious persecution and will not endanger the citizenship of any Indian.

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