Kerala

Kerala Minister Saji Cherian resigns after row over remarks against Constitution

Kerala Minister Saji Cherian resigned from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) cabinet over his alleged disparaging comments about the Constitution

Kerala Minister Saji Cherian resigned from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) cabinet over his alleged disparaging comments about the Constitution | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

Kerala's Culture and Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian resigned from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Cabinet on Wednesday after his controversial remarks against the Constitution caused a public uproar and triggered widespread protests by the Congress and the BJP.

At a hastily convened press conference at the Government Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, Mr. Cherian said: "I am resigning of my own volition. I felt my continuation as Minister would impede any free and fair enquiry. I submitted my resignation to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Mr. Vijayan had sought the Advocate General's opinion in the matter. I did not want my continuation in office to prejudice the AG's legal opinion".

The Raj Bhavan later tweeted:” Hon’ble Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan has approved the proposal of Chief Minister to accept the resignation of Shri Saji Cherian, Minister, Fisheries, Culture & Youth Affairs and to allot the portfolios held by Sri Saji Cherian to Chief Minister”.

Mr. Cherian appeared cheerful at the press conference. He said the television news clipping which allegedly showed him "belittling" the quintessence of the Constitution at a party meeting in Pathanamthitta on July 3 was a cherry-picking of facts.

The video clip that went viral on mainstream and social media was heavily redacted, edited and barely three minutes long, he said. "I spoke for an hour. It was never my intent to denigrate the Constitution. I had merely said social justice and welfare remained a distant dream for the masses despite Constitutional guarantees. It was a political statement delivered in rustic Malayalam", Mr. Cherian said.

Saji Cherian announcing his resignation as Minister in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Saji Cherian announcing his resignation as Minister in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Mr. Cherian said the media had portrayed him as anti-Constitution by taking quotes from his speech out of context.

“The false propaganda campaign had fleetingly advantaged the Opposition when the CPI(M) spearheaded a national movement to prevent right-wing forces from grinding down the secular, democratic and federal principles enshrined in the Constitution”.

Mr. Cherian claimed he had denied the Opposition the opportunity to weaken the CPI(M)'s campaign to protect the Constitution. The CPI(M) was in the forefront of the national struggle against the imposition of the patently anti-minority Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the lifting of Jammu and Kashmir's Constitutionally guaranteed special status, he said.

Earlier, Mr. Cherian had scoffed at a news report that he would tender his resignation when he came out of the CPI(M) State secretariat meeting at the AKG Centre in the forenoon. "For what?" he had asked. An hour later CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told journalists in New Delhi that the party's State unit would take appropriate action in the matter.

The party State secretariat had reportedly found Mr. Cherian's continuation in office legally and politically untenable. By some accounts, secretariat members faulted Mr. Cherian for inadvertently advantaging the Opposition through a momentary lapse of discretion.


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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 1:12:30 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-minister-saji-cherian-resigns-over-his-controversial-remarks-against-constitution/article65608243.ece