Kerala: Governor demands removal of finance minister over 'seditious' speech
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has entered a fresh tussle with the ruling coalition Left Democratic Front (LDF) after demanding that Finance Minister KN Balagopal be fired for making alleged "seditious" statements at a university. The governor said in his letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that Balagopal's speech at a Thiruvananthapuram last week was allegedly against the regional unity and integrity of India.
Why does this story matter?
- The development comes amid an ongoing tussle between the governor and the ruling LDF over the appointment of university Vice-Chancellors (VCs).
- Recently, an order by Governor Khan demanding the resignation of the VCs of eight state universities triggered a political tussle in the state.
- However, the issue reached the Kerala High Court which put a hold on it.
Statement that triggered controversy
Balagopal had reportedly said that "those who come from places like UP, may find it tough to understand universities in Kerala". He was recalling violent crackdowns on students by authorities in other parts of the country. Meanwhile, the governor said the remarks of the finance minister seek to create a wedge between Kerala and other Indian states and project a false impression.
Governor Khan justifies his demand
"Although there are others like Education Minister and Law Minister who have indulged in attacks on me, I wish to ignore them as they hurt me personally," the governor said in the letter. However, he said if he did not take cognizance of the seditious remarks of Balagopal, it would be a grave omission of duty on his part.
CM Vijayan turns down the demand
The governor stated that the finance minister no longer enjoys his pleasure, thus he asked the CM to take necessary action. Meanwhile, the PTI report claimed that the demand was swiftly denied by the CM's office. The governor's letter was met by a protest march outside the Raj Bhavan by the student wing of the state's ruling LDF.
Tough stand by Raj Bhawan
Last week, a Raj Bhawan spokesperson tweeted that the CM and state ministers "have the right to advise the governor" but statements by individual ministers that undermine the dignity of the governor will follow the action. He was referring to the statements by Balagopal and state Higher Education Minister R Bindu at a Kerala University ceremony allegedly aimed at "harming the governor's image."