CPI(M), Congress accuse Kerala Governor of creating constitutional crisis

The Congress took objection to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s remarks that Nehru had invited the RSS to the first Republic Day parade, calling it a “serious ahistorical remark”.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan
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The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala, on Tuesday, September 20, accused Governor Arif Mohammed Khan of creating a 'constitutional crisis' in the state at the behest of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and not discharging his duties, while the BJP defended him saying that he was not being provided proper security.

The Governor was speaking at a press conference called by him at Raj Bhavan earlier in the day to release a video clip of him being interrupted at a Kannur University event in 2019, and the letters exchanged between him and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the functioning of the universities. Further, irked by Arif's claim that India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru invited RSS to the Republic day parade, Congress joined issue against him, saying it was a "serious ahistorical remark" which he should retract and also express regret for making such a comment. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran tweeted today that under the Right to Information Act, the Narendra Modi government has said no such incident ever took place.

Stepping up their attack on the Governor, in the wake of his unprecedented press conference a day ago at Raj Bhavan where he levelled several accusations against the Left government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, senior CPI(M) leaders as well as ministers said that Arif was not acting or functioning in accordance with his Constitutional position. Left party leaders said that he has become a "tool" of certain power centres and by his actions, which even the public is not taking seriously, was bringing disrepute to his office.

They also alleged that RSS was using the Governor to create a "constitutional crisis" in the state. Amidst the severe criticism of the Governor, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shobha Karandlaje, who is in the southern state, said it was "very bad" that the state government and the CM were fighting everyday with the Governor who is against corruption and wants autonomy for the universities.

"He is not even provided proper security. Irfan Habib attacked him, but no FIR lodged till date. On one side the government is sitting with PFI and SDPI and on the other not providing security to the Governor. If the government cannot protect the Governor, how will it protect the people? Even women are not safe here. 16,418 cases of crimes against women lodged in 2021 alone. Of that over 2,000 were rape cases. Very bad," she said.

Meanwhile, CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam sent a letter to President Droupadi Murmu requesting her to "take cognizance of the gravity of the situation and to issue urgent necessary instructions to the Governor of Kerala to maintain the sanctity and decorum of his august office and to abstain from the interference with the constitutional functioning of the state government".

In his letter, Binoy alleged that Arif was "on a collision course with the state government" and his actions were "clearly anti-constitutional". CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan, speaking to the media, said, "Governor should function as a Governor and not as a swayamsevak of RSS."

State Minister of Local Self Government, MB Rajesh told reporters that the claims of the Governor have no factual basis and sought to know how Arif can say that he would not sign the bills when he claims he has not even seen them. "It shows a preconceived mindset or decision. His conduct over the last few days shows whom he is working for and where the remote control is. The RSS is creating this constitutional crisis by using the Governor," he said.

The state's former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac also shared a similar view, saying that the Governor was trying to implement policies of BJP and RSS in Kerala. Thomas said, "Wherever there is a non-BJP government, they are using the Governor to create problems in those states. Look at Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Jharkhand, it is happening at all those places, not just Kerala."

State Higher Education Minister R Bindu too came to the fore against the Governor's allegations regarding appointments in the state universities, and said that he should not pick and choose some selections out of thousands and claim that there was something wrong. "Publicly airing such views was not in keeping with the Constitutional office he holds," she said.

State Law Minister P Rajeev, on being asked by reporters about the Governor's stand on the Bills, said that the Governor was bound to act according to the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. He said that a Governor cannot take independent actions or function independently, which was also made clear by Dr BR Ambedkar during the Constituent Assembly debates, and therefore, he should accept that fact and act accordingly.

He also took a dig at Arif by saying that the latter may not accept concepts like democracy and Parliamentary form of government as these originated outside India. This was a dig at Khan's allegations that the Left parties were following the Communist ideology, which is a foreign concept, that authorises use of force to silence dissent.

Rajeeve said that the Governor should act with a sense of responsibility and in accordance with the office he holds, instead of reducing such a high position to ridicule. State Minister for Cooperation and Registration VN Vasavan also opined that Arif has become a "tool" for some power centres or groups.

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