Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Thursday said that he will resign if there is any truth in the allegations by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about political interference in the appointment of vice chancellors to state-run universities, reported PTI.

On Wednesday, Vijayan had alleged that Khan’s demand of immediate resignation from nine Kerala universities’ vice chancellors was beyond his powers, Deccan Herald reported. The chief minister also claimed that Arif’s alleged interference in the appointments indicated that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Sangh Parivar wanted to saffronise the state’s universities.

The controversy began on October 23, when Khan asked for resignations, citing a Supreme Court verdict. The top court in its judgement had pointed out that the search committee, which recommended Rajasree MS as the vice chancellor of APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Thiruvananthapuram, violated University Grants Commission norms.

The court also said that according to the University Act 2015, the committee should unanimously nominate three persons for the role, but it had only recommended Rajasree’s name.

A day after Khan’s demand for resignations, the Kerala High Court stayed his order, 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 based on a show cause notice.

Khan immediately issued notices to the vice chancellors and directed them to state by November 3 why their appointments should not be declared illegal.

On Wednesday, seven vice chancellors moved the Kerala High Court against Khan’s show cause notices, saying that they are illegal.

Khan on Thursday said that his decision to seek the resignation of vice chancellors was not politically motivated, PTI reported.

“If I have nominated even one person, not just of RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], any person, on my own using my authority, then I will resign,” Khan told reporters in Delhi. “Will he [Vijayan] be able to resign if he is not able to prove it? I am asking you [media].”

He also alleged that the Chief Minister’s Office was “patronising smuggling activities” in the state and contended that in such a situation there were grounds for him to interfere, reported ANI.

“I didn’t make any allegation [against Vijayan], Khan said, reported ANI. “Chief Minister’s secretary was sacked. Was he patronising those involved in case without CM’s knowledge? Then, it’s a reflection on CM’s capability.”

The smuggling case pertains to the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from diplomatic baggage in July 2020. Customs officials had found the gold during the inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the consular general of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram.

The customs department arrested two persons in the case who had worked at the consulate general’s office until six months before the seizure. One of the accused, Swapna Suresh, had alleged that Vijayan had taken a bag full of currency to the United Arab Emirates in 2016.