Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan, state finance minister K N Balagopal
Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan seeks constitutionally appropriate action against finance minister Balagopal. The FM refused to comment on the controversy when reporters sought his reaction saying that the CM had already given a reply

CPI(M), Congress slam Kerala Governor for seeking action against FM

The ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress on Wednesday (October 26) joined hands to lash out at Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan for seeking “constitutionally appropriate” action against state finance minister K N Balagopal for his recent speech. However, the Congress, which dismissed the governor’s demand with “due contempt”, at the same time, expressed doubt whether the tussle between the governor and the government was “fake”.

The Marxist party, meanwhile, maintained that Khan was trying to implement the “BJP-RSS agenda” and urged him to act in accordance with the Constitutional and legal norms.

Khan had written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking action against Balagopal for making a speech “undermining unity”. The governor informed Vijayan he had “ceased to enjoy pleasure” in Balagopal but the CM, in his reply, rejected his demand saying his trust on the latter remains “undiminished”.

CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan told the media at a press conference that as per the Constitutional provisions and Supreme Court (SC) verdicts in this regard, the “pleasure of the Governor” could not be personal and withdrawn as per individual choices.

Extending complete support to the finance minister, Govindan said that there was no remark made by Balagopal that amounted to any personal insult in his speech, as alleged by the governor.

Also read: Kerala Governor move to have VCs ousted not backed by law: Experts

“The Chief Minister has already given a reply that the personal pleasure of the Governor is not required for a minister to be retained in the cabinet. The Chief Minister’s decision is more important. The apex court, in its verdicts, has clearly defined what pleasure means,” Govindan said.

The Left leader also criticised the governor over his recent action of seeking resignation of the vice-chancellors of the major universities of the state in the name of a SC verdict.
Meanwhile, leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan said in New Delhi that Khan’s action will not cause any administrative crisis in the state and that the Opposition will surely point out if the governor exercises a power which he does not actually have.

Further, he said the governor is not “the God who cannot be questioned” and it was the Opposition who criticised him even before the ministers. “Has any Governor ever demanded the withdrawal of a minister anywhere in the history of India? He can withdraw senate members of the universities if needed,” he pointed out.

Lashing out at the Left government also along with the governor, Satheesan said the recent SC verdict regarding the appointment of vice-chancellors was against both of them.

“The Supreme Court pointed out that all VC appointments, made jointly by the Governor and the Government in violation of the UGC norms, are illegal… So, a fake fight is now going on between the Governor and the Government to deceive the people in order to hide the verdict,” the LoP added.

Kanam Rajendran, state secretary of CPI which is the second largest coalition partner in the ruling LDF, charged that the governor was challenging not just democracy but even the Constitution itself.

Also read: Kerala Governor seeks FM Balagopal’s ouster; Pinarayi says nothing doing

“If there is a post office, anybody can send letters,” he said mocking the governor when asked about the letter he sent to the CM seeking the finance minister’s removal.
He also said the development was just “a storm in a teacup” and will not create any crisis in the state.

Finance minister Balagopal refused to comment on the controversy when reporters sought his reaction. He said the letter by the governor and the CM’s reply were the communication between two heads of the state. It was not appropriate for him to say anything on the merit of the subject as the CM had already given a reply, added the finance minister.

In his letter, the governor did not explicitly seek removal/withdrawal of Balagopal from the LDF cabinet but it seemed to be the essence of his communication to Vijayan.

A highly-placed source told PTI that Vijayan in his response to the governor had said that from a constitutional perspective and factoring in the democratic conventions and traditions of the country, the statement cannot warrant a ground for cessation of enjoyment of the governor’s pleasure.

Quoting the newspaper reports of October 19, the governor alleged the comments made by Balagopal and state higher education minister R Bindu at a function organised at Karyavattom campus of Kerala University were “clearly aimed at tarnishing the image of the governor and lowering the dignity of office of the governor”.

Also read: Kerala Governor’s ‘withdrawal of pleasure’ remark draws flak from all corners

The governor’s letter carried the newspaper reports quoting Balagopal who reportedly said at the function that those who come from places like Uttar Pradesh, may find it tough to understand universities in Kerala.

Balagopal, a former Rajya Sabha MP, reportedly continued saying, “security guards of the vice-chancellor of Banaras University had shot down five students. Then, I was an MP and had gone there. The vice-chancellor had 50 to 100 security guards. This is the situation in many universities there”.

Governor Khan said, “The above mentioned remarks of the finance minister seek to create a wedge between Kerala and other states of Indian Union and project a false impression as if different states of India have different systems of higher education”. Khan alleged that the reported statements of Balagopal are nothing short of violation of the oath he had administered to him.

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