T.N. CM Stalin retains Senthilbalaji as Minister; Governor dissents

However, Governor R.N. Ravi accepts Chief Minister’s recommendation to reallocate portfolios held by the Minister

Updated - June 19, 2023 12:39 pm IST

Published - June 16, 2023 06:03 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi. File

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi. File | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Friday, June 17, 2023, decided to retain as “Minister without portfolio” V. Senthilbalaji, who was recently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case and is in judicial custody in a private hospital. Governor R.N. Ravi, however, expressed disagreement with his continuation in Cabinet.

Also read |Senthilbalaji sent to eight-day Enforcement Directorate custody 

A Raj Bhavan press release said, “...the Governor has not agreed [to] V. Senthilbalaji continuing any longer as a Member of the Council of Ministers as he is facing criminal proceedings for moral turpitude and is currently in Judicial custody.”

However, Mr Ravi accepted the Chief Minister’s recommendation to reallocate portfolios held by the arrested Minister.

The Raj Bhavan said based on the recommendation of the Chief Minister the subjects of Electricity and Non-Conventional Energy Development dealt with by Mr. Senthilbalaji had been allocated to Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu. The subjects of Prohibition and Excise, Molasses were allocated to Housing Minister S. Muthusamy.

Late in the night, a State Government press release cited Mr Senthilbalaji’s “hospitalisation” for the reallocation of subjects handled by him. It said he would continue as a minister without portfolio.

Incidentally, on Thursday, Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy had told journalists that Mr. Ravi had not accepted Mr. Stalin’s recommendation to reallocate portfolios stating that the reason for hospitalisation of Mr. Senthilbalaji cited in the letter was “misleading” and “incorrect”. But Mr. Stalin stood his ground and pointed out that allocation of portfolios was his prerogative.

Earlier on May 31 against the backdrop of a Supreme Court ruling directing investigation to proceed against Mr. Senthilbalaji in an alleged cash for jobs scam and Income Tax searches at people close to him, the Governor had written to Mr. Stalin suggesting, he drop Mr. Senthilbalaji from the Cabinet. However, Mr. Stalin had responded that the Governor’s demand went against the Constitution and pointed out that as per Article 164 (1) of the Constitution, the Governor has no powers on the issue.

This communication between the Governor and the Chief Minister was made public by Mr. Ponmudy only on Thursday.

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