New Delhi: BJP leader Arif Mohammad Khan, who quit the Rajiv Gandhi government and the Congress in 1986 over the Shah Bano case and was vocal in supporting the Narendra Modi government over the law to ban instant triple talaq, was on Sunday appointed new Kerala Governor.
He replaces incumbent and former Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam whose five-year term has ended.
After his appointment, Khan said: “It is an opportunity to serve. Fortunate to be born in a country like India which is so vast and rich in diversity. It is a great opportunity for me to know this part of India, which forms boundary of India and is called God’s own country.”
Khan had shot to prominence with his much-acclaimed speech in Parliament in 1985 in the wake of the Shah Bano verdict – where the Supreme Court judgment favoured maintenance to an aggrieved divorced Muslim woman from her husband – when the Rajiv Gandhi government initially expressed its support.
However, when the government did a U-turn under alleged pressure from Muslim clerics and brought a bill to nullify the Supreme Court order, Khan resigned as a minister as well as from the Congress in protest.
The veteran leader has been cited many times by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in triple talaq debates. Supporting the party to bring reform in the Muslim community, he voiced support for jailing those accused of giving triple talaq to their wives.
When the Modi government brought a bill to criminalize the practice of instant triple talaq, he even asked the Congress to extend support to the BJP.
The 68-year-old leader, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, has also supported the Centre on its move to scrap the Constitution’s Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The 1951-born leader started his political career as a student leader and contested the first legislative assembly election from Siyana constituency of Bulandshahr on Bharatiya Kranti Dal party’s banner but was defeated. He became a member of the legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh in 1977 at the age of 26.
Khan then joined the Congress and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 from Kanpur and in 1984 from Bahraich.
After leaving Congress in 1986, Khan joined the V.P.Singh-led Jan Morcha and eventually, the Janata Dal and was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989. When the Janata Dal came to power in 1989, he served Civil Aviation and Energy Minister in the short-lived V.P. Singh government.
Khan later left the Janata Dal to join the Bahujan Samaj Party and again entered the Lok Sabha in 1998 from Bahraich.
In 2004, Khan joined the BJP and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Kaisarganj constituency. He remained relatively inactive in the BJP till speaking out on the triple talaq issue.