Kerala finance minister has ‘ceased to enjoy my pleasure’: Governor asks CM to take action
Arif Mohammed Khan has accused KN Balagopal of making statements that violated his oath and undermined India’s unity and integrity.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take action against his Finance Minister KN Balagopal for allegedly violating his oath and undermining India’s unity and integrity, reported The Indian Express.
At an event on October 19, Balagopal had reportedly said: “Some people who are accustomed to the practices in places like Uttar Pradesh might not be able to understand the democratic nature in which universities function in Kerala.”
The statement was in reference to Khan directing vice chancellors of nine state universities to resign. However, the Kerala High Court put the decision on hold, saying that the vice chancellors can continue in their positions till the governor, who is the ex-officio chancellor of the universities, passes an order on the basis of a showcause notices.
On Tuesday, Khan told Vijayan that Balagopal’s comments were in violations of the oath of office he had administered to the minister.
“The comments made by Balagopal seek to stoke the fire of regionalism and provincialism and if allowed to go unchecked, they may have an erosive and baneful influence on our national unity and integrity,” Khan said.
He added: “As a minister who deliberately violates the oath and undermines the unity and integrity of India cannot continue to enjoy my pleasure. In these circumstances, I am left with no option but to convey that Balagopal has ceased to enjoy my pleasure.”
Although Khan has not explicitly spelt out what he wants, he seems to be asking Vijayan to sack the finance minister. However, Vijayan rejected the demand in a reply to the governor.
Khan’s letter came a week after he had warned ministers that they could be removed from their posts for making statements that lower the dignity of the governor’s office.
The governor appoints state ministers on the recommendation of the chief minister and they can remain in office on his pleasure, according to Article 164 of the Indian Constitution. But, the governor does not have unilateral power to dismiss them from the state Cabinet, legal experts told The News Minute.
“The chief minister also has the power to reinstate that minister, since the governor has little say on the appointments to the Cabinet,” lawyer George Poonthottam told the news website. “His power is only in regard to the continuity of the minister’s term.”