Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday declined approval for a special Assembly session, recommended by the Pinarayi Vijayan government to discuss and pass a resolution against the three contentious agricultural laws, PTI reported.
The Kerala Cabinet had decided on Monday to recommend to the governor to convene the Assembly on December 23, following which Khan had asked the government about the need for the urgent session. On Tuesday, Khan denied the permission after the state government submitted its response.
Following the governor’s decision, Vijayan wrote to Khan pointing out that the Assembly was competent to discuss matters of general public interest, under rules mentioned by the Constitution. He said that summoning and proroguing sessions of the state Assembly has to be in accordance with the advice of the council of ministers.
“It is regrettable that a recommendation coming from an elected government, enjoying clear majority in the legislative assembly for discussing an emergent issue of national importance, has not been acceded by the Hon’ble Governor, especially when the power to summon a session of the assembly clearly falls outside the discretionary power of the governor,” Vijayan wrote.
Kerala’s Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar termed the action as undemocratic, while the Opposition’s Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala called it unfortunate and against democratic values, according to PTI.
Union Minister K Muraleedharan welcomed the governor’s decision, saying that the attempt to pass a resolution against the laws passed by Parliament and given assent by the president was unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the police in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday evening used water cannons against Youth Congress members to stop them from marching to Raj Bhawan against the governor’s decision, ANI reported.
A regular session of the Assembly has already been planned from January 8 and it is likely to continue till January 28.
Last year, the Kerala government had convened a similar special session of the Assembly during which it passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act. It became the first state in the country to take such a measure then.
Farm law protests
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 27 days against the laws. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.