Senthilbalaji issue | Stalin ‘disregards’ Governor’s letter dismissing Minister

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister asserts Governor has no power to sack a Minister, accuses him of acting in haste with scant regard to the Constitution of India

Updated - July 03, 2023 01:15 pm IST

Published - June 30, 2023 02:21 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. File

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Tamil Nadu government has decided to “disregard” the communication of Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi dismissing Minister V. Senthilbalaji from the Council of Ministers (the communication has since been kept in abeyance), Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu said in Chennai on Friday, June 30, 2023. The Governor’s action was untenable in law, he said.

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On the evening of June 29, 2023, Mr. Ravi had unilaterally “dismissed with immediate effect” arrested Minister V. Senthilbalaji from the Council of Ministers, only to hurriedly backtrack on his decision late in the night. In a later communication to the CM, Mr. Ravi said he had been advised by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to seek the opinion of the Attorney General, and therefore, the order of dismissal of Minister Senthilbalaji could be kept in abeyance.

Addressing journalists, accompanied by Law Minister S. Regupathy and DMK Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson, Mr. Thennarasu said Chief Minister M.K. Stalin would reiterate to the Governor that it is the prerogative of the CM to retain or drop a Minister from the Council of Ministers.

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu addresses journalists at the Secretariat in Chennai on June 30, 2023. He is flanked by DMK Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson (left) and Tamil Nadu Minister for Law S. Regupathy. Photo: Special Arrangement

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu addresses journalists at the Secretariat in Chennai on June 30, 2023. He is flanked by DMK Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson (left) and Tamil Nadu Minister for Law S. Regupathy. Photo: Special Arrangement

Responding to a query on the Governor’s apprehensions that Mr. Senthilbalaji continuing in the T.N. Council of Ministers would influence the ongoing investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and the State police, Mr. Thennarasu pointed out that the Minister was in judicial custody, and asked how this could possibly happen.

Claiming that Mr. Senthilbalaji was being “singled out”, Mr. Thennarasu charged that there were “ulterior political motives” behind the action against the Minister, who is now without a portfolio. Mr. Thennarasu referred to “at least 11 cases” pending against serving Union Ministers and pointed out that they continued to be part of the Union Cabinet.

To a query on the Governor’s contention that the CM, in a letter to him, used “intemperate language”, Mr. Thennarasu maintained that Mr. Stalin was “most courteous” and had always ensured the dignity of the office of the Governor.

Mr. Thennarasu also said the government was not opposed to a fair investigation against Mr. Senthilbalaji.

Mr. Senthilbalaji was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on June 24 in an alleged money laundering case. He was hospitalised soon after his arrest, and later underwent a beating heart coronary artery bypass surgery at a private hospital in Chennai.

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