Kerala

CPI(M) ‘reversed decision’ to back Cherian

Saji Cheriyan leaves after addressing the media  announcing his resignation, in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.

Saji Cheriyan leaves after addressing the media announcing his resignation, in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] reportedly sought Culture and Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian's resignation to mitigate the incrementally intensifying legal and national-level fallout of his controversial remarks "against" the Constitution.

By some accounts, the CPI(M) 's initial instinct was to resist the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) campaign for Mr. Cherian's ouster. However, the CPI(M) 's national leadership reportedly felt Mr. Cherian's continuation in government would imperil the party's high-profile campaign to defend the Constitution against the Centre's "infringements" on the founding principles.

A party insider posited that the leadership's precursory reading of the issue prompted the CPI(M) in Kerala to reverse its position on Mr. Cherian's continuation in office.

The party's disposition in the matter also seemed apparent in CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury's reaction in New Delhi. "The party's State unit will address the issue," Mr. Yechury said. He refused to dwell on the merit of the matter.

The CPI(M) reportedly noted that the Congress and the BJP had "misrepresented" Mr. Cherian's remark as disrespecting Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Constitution's revered architect. It also factored in the high-profile protests against Mr. Cherian by pro-Congress and pro-BJP Dalit organisations.

Finally, the Advocate General's "opinion" that the Minister's continuation in office was legally untenable reportedly turned the tables on Mr. Cherian.

The CPI(M) had often used resignations to disarm the Opposition. In the previous LDF government, four ministers who got enmired in controversies of a similar scale had resigned. They included E.P. Jayarajan, K.T. Jaleel, A.K. Saseendran and the late Thomas Chandy. Mr. Jayarajan and Mr. Saseendran were re-inducted later.

The government could use Mr. Cherian's resignation to launch a counter-offensive against the Congress-led Opposition in the Assembly.

However, the Congress and the BJP have averred that the CPI(M)'s gambit to save face by "sacrificing" Mr. Cherian would backfire. Both parties have demanded that Mr. Cherian step down as a legislator for allegedly disavowing his oath of office.

They alleged that Mr. Cherian was unrepentant and had attempted to discredit the Opposition and ascribed political motives to unflattering news reports. The CPI(M) State secretariat is meeting on Thursday to weigh the Opposition's decision to up their ante in the current conflict with the government.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2022 11:52:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/saji-cherian/article65609009.ece