The eighth session of the 15th Kerala Assembly began in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday began with Governor Arif Muhammed Khan delivering the customary address to the State Legislative Assembly.

The Governor, who has had a frosty relationship with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was received at the portals of the Assembly by the Chief Minister and Speaker AN Shamseer. Earlier, the Governor had ended the suspense over his participation in the proceedings after he approved the text of the speech.

The government appeared to have blinked first by sending to Raj Bhavan the text that had significantly toned down the anti-Centre rhetoric unlike earlier. Still, it was not entirely without barbs, including against restrictions on the extent of raising debt.

Benign start to text

The Governor’s address had a benign start with praise for achievements on the State’s developmental front, especially in social and economic growth. The State has been able to grow at 17 per cent during 2022-23 against all odds with stress on sustainable development.

Many measures have been taken to improve the State’s investment-friendly appeal. The developmental policy framework has taken care to address the concerns of the socially and economically disadvantaged sections.

During the year under reference, the State has been able to make a quantum jump in the industrial and infrastructure sectors. In this context, the Governor highlighted the need for strengthening the concept and practice of economic federalism.

Employment generation

The State has been ranked the best in caring for the elderly and initiating steps to counter unemployment. Several new jobs have been created through the Kerala Knowledge Economy Mission.

An insurance scheme has been introduced for government employees. A number of government services have been made online. The plantation sector will continue to attract attention.

From here, the text of the speech began to digress a little and launched itself into a token tirade against certain policies adopted by the Centre. Restrictions on the State’s capacity to borrow came in for special mention.

The Governor stressed the importance of upholding constitutional rights and responsibilities, as well as sustaining the State Assembly as a temple of democracy.

State budget on February 3

The Governor’s speech also took exception to the latest untoward developments being reported around the country on the assault on freedom of speech and expression.

Kerala has always sought to promote and protect the freedom of the media. The State has continued to make significant progress in the health and education sectors.

After a recess extending from January 26 to 31, the Assembly will take up discussion on a vote of thanks to the Governor’s address on February 1 and 2. Finance Minister KN Balagopal will present the State Budget for 2023-24 to the House on February 3.