Marshals in the Kerala assembly had to form a human chain to let the governor reach the dais and deliver a speech on Wednesday as opposition MLAs held placards and shouted “Go Back” slogans for his support to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) before staging a walkout.
Dramatic scenes unfolded in the assembly as opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) MLAs blocked Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan ushered him in for presenting the policy address at the beginning of the Budget Session.
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 “Governor Go Back” slogans once it ended.
When Mr Khan began his policy address, the opposition members walked out of the assembly hall and launched a sit-in protest at the gates of the assembly.
Delivering his speech which was prepared by the Left Democratic Front government, the governor paused at a paragraph which criticised the CAA.
“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.
Mr Khan, who is a representative of the BJP-led central government in the state, has been at odds with the opposition and the state government which are united against the CAA. The opposition has demanded that the governor be recalled following his repeated criticism of the assembly’s resolution against the citizenship law.
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. 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.