By Sanu George
Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 15 (SocialNews.XYZ) In the second half of 2022, it was a battle royale in Kerala between the head of the state Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and head of the government Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
There were times when all levels of political decency were breached when the fight between the two crossed the permissible borders.
Why this occurred is now a matter of debate. Both come from strong political backgrounds and hence it turned into an ego issue. The saving grace now is that with the New Year, there seems to be some respite as the 'guns' of these seasoned veterans have fallen silent.
While Vijayan who is the last word in both the government and the CPI-M has not crossed the Kerala borders, Khan had a larger canvas right from the time he entered politics.
Khan started his political career as a student leader and in 1972-73 was the president of Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union.
He, however, began with a loss when he contested his first legislative assembly election from the Siyana constituency of Bulandshahar on a Bharatiya Kranti Dal ticket.
But in 1977 at the age of 26 he became a member of the legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh and has not looked back since in an eventful political career.
In 1980 after joining the Indian National Congress he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 from Kanpur and 1984 from Bahraich.
Then came a major game changer in Khan's political career when in 1986, he quit the Congress party after differences over the passage of the Muslim Personal Law Bill which was piloted by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
Khan was against the legislation to enable Muslim men to avoid giving their divorced wife or wives any maintenance after the iddah period as per the Qur'an and resigned because of differences with Rajiv Gandhi on this issue.
Then Khan joined the Janata Dal and was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989.
During the Janata Dal rule Khan served as Union Minister of Civil aviation and Energy.
Then he left the Janata Dal to join the Bahujan Samaj Party and again entered the Lok Sabha in 1998 from Bahraich.
Khan held ministerial responsibilities from 1984 to 1990.
He again changed his political colours, when in 2004, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election as a BJP candidate that year from Kaiserganj constituency.
From then on he was in political wilderness and was a surprise choice when in 2019 the Narendra Modi government chose him to be the new Governor of Kerala.
When Khan arrived in Kerala, Vijayan was at his peak with both the party and the government firmly under his control. The outgoing governor, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court P. Sathasivam, bowed out after his term with no skirmishes.
While Khan began on a quiet note, he took his own time to study all the political issues, especially with the state BJP unit time and again complaining about the high handedness of Vijayan, especially after his became the first sitting government to get a second term.
Khan soon got into the act and fired the first salvo when he put his foot down on the appointment of Vijayan's private secretary K.K. Ragesh's wife Priya Varghese to a teaching job in Kannur University.
And from then on it was a free for all when Khan spoke about political interference by turning universities into a department of the CPI-M. He started coming down more heavily after the Supreme Court declared the vice-chancellor of Kerala Technological University as void ab inito.
Soon Khan took up this issue with the VCs of 10 other universities and that matter is presently before the court.
Vijayan, not the one to lie low, asked the Left Democratic Front to express their ire against Khan and assembled before his official residence.
While Vijayan and his cabinet members kept away, all other Left leaders and close to a lakh of their cadres assembled to express their displeasure against Khan.
Then came a snub from Vijayan when he and his cabinet members refused to accept an invite to attend Khan's Christmas party and when the CM held one, Khan was not invited.
If that was not enough came a Bill to remove the Governor as the chancellor of universities in the state, but here Khan said he will not sit in judgement and is expected to send the Bill to the president.
And when things seemed to go out of control, Khan after expressing his displeasure at the return of Saji Cherian as a Minister after resigning in July last year for his attack on the Constitution, gave his nod that he will be sworn in on the date fixed by Vijayan. He did that early this month.
In return there was a clampdown from Vijayan, when the state government decided to sign off the December assembly session, which will enable Khan to deliver his address to the Kerala Assembly, a convention in vogue, at the start of a new calendar year.
Incidentally the Congress led opposition played the waiting game when the two clashed and they did not lose any opportunity to take on both the titans at the appropriate time.
On one occasion when Khan slammed the Congress, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan said that they need not learn anything from a 'person' who has changed more than half a dozen political parties. When Satheesan wishes to slam both Khan and Vijayan, his stock statement is the two are foes when the day breaks and when the sun sets, they are friends and the latest silence is because Khan sent a packet of Kashmiri halwa to Vijayan.
But those who have analysed both the men, say this lull is most likely a temporary truce as feathers have been ruffled and both are waiting to strike when the iron is hot.
So all eyes are on Khan's address to the Assembly on January 23, when the picture would become more clear on the clash of the titans.