Days after Governor Arif Mohammed Khan declined nod for a special Assembly session, the Kerala cabinet on Thursday again decided to recommend to him to convene a one-day session to discuss and pass a resolution against the three central agricultural laws, against which farmers have been protesting near Delhi. Instead of the special session earlier, the cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, decided to recommend to the Governor to convene the 21st session of the 14th Kerala Legislative Assembly on December 31 to discuss the farmers' issue.
The Governor had turned down an earlier plea of the Left government to convene a special session on December 23 citing that there was no urgency as a normal Assembly session was scheduled on January 8, 2021. Vijayan told reporters here the government decided to recommend again as the concerns and problems faced by the agriculture sector and farming community continued to be serious.
Explaining the circumstances that forced the cabinet to come up with the recommendation again, he said at the national level, the agricultural sector and the farming community were facing serious issues. The situation was that the southern state was largely dependent on other states for foodgrains, he said.
"Therefore the problems faced by farmers in other parts of the country are of great concern to our state. As it is a matter of common interest to the state and the country, it will be appropriate to discuss this in the state Legislative Assembly," he said.
The Chief Minister said he was 'hopeful' the Governor would accord sanction to convene the session this time. "I hope the Governor will accede to the government request this time.According to the Parliamentary norms in our country, a Governor usually gives approval for a decision taken by an elected government, enjoying majority," he said.
It was the prerogative of the Assembly to decide what to be discussed in the House, he said, adding that applying discretion to give approval for a government decision was against the existing Parliamentary norms. "We are not against the Governor performing duties entrusted to him.He cannot apply discretion on the decision of an elected government but only accord sanction to it," the chief minister added.
The Governor's earlier act of declining nod for the special session had triggered sharp criticism from the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF). Agricultural Minister V S Sunil Kumar had termed his act as "undemocratic", while leader of opposition in the state assembly and veteran congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said it was unfortunate and against "democratic values".
However, the state BJP had welcomed the governor's action, saying the attempt to pass a resolution against the laws passed by Parliament and given assent by the President was "unconstitutional." The special session decision was taken in the backdrop of thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, camping at various borders of Delhi for almost four weeks demanding repeal of the three agricultural laws. The farmers are apprehending that the new laws will pave the way for a dismantling of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism and the mandi system, leaving them to the "mercy" of big corporates.
But the government has been saying these fears are misplaced and offered to hold fresh talks with them to resolve the crisis..