LDF braces for legal and political fight over Governor’s powers

LDF Ministers are unwilling to comment publicly on whether the government would challenge the Governor’s controversial move in court

Updated - October 28, 2022 01:54 pm IST

Published - October 27, 2022 09:43 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

Rift in the open: The stand-off between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the State government has been escalating.

Rift in the open: The stand-off between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the State government has been escalating. | Photo Credit: Mahinsha. S

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) is reportedly bracing for a potentially consequential political and legal fight over the limits of gubernatorial powers.

It appears to view Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s fiat withdrawing the “Governor’s pleasure” for the duration of Finance Minister K. N. Balagopal’s term in office as the most aggressive move so far by the Raj Bhavan in its recurrent run-ins with the LDF government. By some accounts, the ruling front feels that the prospect of leaving the question legally unresolved might not augur well for the government.

The front feels that any litigant could approach court to put the administration on defence. The person or entity could question the government's conformity to the unsettled question of whether a Minister could continue in office after the Governor "withdrew pleasure".

If challenged, some indicate, the LDF would move to seek legal confirmation for its political position that the Chief Minister's counsel bound the Governor and "Governor's pleasure" is inseparably moored to the Chief Minister's prerogative to dismiss or induct a Minister into the Cabinet.

Ministers are unwilling to comment publicly on whether the government would challenge Mr. Khan's controversial move in court.

Mr. Khan’s charge against Mr. Balagopal is that he has stoked regionalism and challenged national unity by stating that persons of Uttar Pradesh origin could not understand the Kerala varsities’ democratic nature. The government has denied the accusations and reasserted the Chief Minister's "inalienable constitutional right" to appoint or drop Ministers. It is also felt that the Raj Bhavan has read unintended meanings into Mr. Balagopal's speech.

In a political counter, an LDF insider alleges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had compared Kerala to Somalia once. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had "slanderously campaigned against turning U.P. into a Kerala".

If so, he says the Raj Bhavan's yardstick of "seditious speech and challenging national unity" should apply to BJP leaders equally.

The LDF views scant support for Mr. Khan in the Opposition United Democratic Front. However, BJP's position that it would rally people behind the Governor remains a cause for political concern in some measure for the ruling front.

Earlier, Mr. Khan had opened a front against the government by seeking the resignation of nine State university Vice Chancellors by contending that the Supreme Court deemed their selection process flawed.

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