CPI(M) leadership meets amidst escalating spat with Governor

Meet likely to discuss the possibility of vesting powers of the Chancellor with the Chief Minister apart from the contentious order, now withdrawn, on raising retirement age of State-run PSU staff

Published - November 04, 2022 09:22 pm IST

The three-day Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leadership meeting that got under way at the party’s State headquarters at the AKG Centre here on Friday appeared to be anything but routine.

The political context of the closed door conclave is exceptional by most counts. The party’s State secretariat and State committee are meeting when the government is fiercely at odds with Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.

The Governor-government spat seemed to reach an apogee on Thursday, with Mr. Khan launching a no-holds-barred attack on the State government in New Delhi. For one, Mr. Khan claimed the Chief Minister’s Office’s (CMO) “inescapable involvement in the UAE gold smuggling case” gave the Governor “enough ground for interference”.

The CPI(M) is also at loggerheads with Khan for “withdrawing the pleasure” for the continuance of Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal in office, Raj Bhavan’s perceived reluctance to sign Bills passed by the Assembly into law, and alleged trespasses by the Governor on the jurisdictional autonomy of universities.

Mr. Khan’s latest foray against the government to emerge in the public domain was a purported letter to the President accusing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of keeping Raj Bhavan in the dark about his European tour and not nominating a Cabinet colleague to helm the government in his absence.

Accused of ‘meddling’

The CPI(M) has also openly resented Mr. Khan’s “meddling” in the everyday affairs of governance. It has accused Mr. Khan of running a recriminatory campaign against the State’s top political executive.

The CPI(M) might also discuss the provenance of the contentious order raising the retirement age of State-run public sector unit employees, which drew flak from trade unions, pro-Left youth organisations and the Opposition. CPI(M) State secretary M.V. Govindan had disavowed the decree.

Like T.N. govt.

Politically, the CPI(M) has found a common cause with the Tamil Nadu government, which has sought the withdrawal of the State’s Governor over comparable disputes.

The CPI(M) is also drumming up public support against Mr. Khan’s “infringes on federalism” as a precursor to the party’s siege of Raj Bhavan on November 15. It might also weigh passing a Bill to vest the powers of the Chancellor with the Chief Minister as it occurred in other non-BJP-ruled States.

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