Kerala Minister Saji Cheriyan resigns after row on his remarks against Constitution

The Minister faced severe flak after his controversial remarks on the Indian Constitution at an event in Pathanamthitta.
Minister Saji Cherian
Minister Saji Cherian
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Kerala Minister for Culture, Fisheries and Film Saji Cheriyan resigned on the evening of Wednesday, July 6, following a controversy over the comments he made on the Indian Constitution a day earlier. Announcing his resignation, Minister Saji said that he was resigning of his own accord, and had conveyed his decision to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. “I will be fully involved with my party’s work to uphold the values of the Indian Constitution,” he said.  

Describing the events in the last two days, he said, “There has been news that I insulted the Constitution at a party event in Mallappally in Pathanamthitta. I am a citizen who respects the Constitution. The political party I am part of, is putting up a strong fight to protect the Constitution, secular and federal nature of the country. We have all been trying to save the federal and secular values of the Constitution and I believe it should be strengthened for it.”

He also said that his speech was misconstrued to target the CPI(M). “I never intended to insult the Constitution. I have come to know that the Chief Minister has sought the Advocate General's opinion,” he added.

Blaming the media for not reporting his entire speech made at the event, Minister Saji said, “Secularism is under grave threat now and the recent developments in the Gujarat riot trials is an example. I had spoken about all this in my speech, but my speech was not telecast fully. That is my complaint about you (the media). As a person who has been loyal to the people and Constitution of the country, the propaganda against me has saddened me.”

At an event in Pathanamthitta on July 5, the Minister said that the Constitution "condoned exploitation [of workers]" and was written in a way to help "plunder the people.” The remarks had sparked a controversy with the opposition parties criticising his choice of words. Both the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP took out protests, demanding his resignation. 

The Minister had later defended his statements, saying that he had not intended to portray the Constitution in a poor light and that his remarks were "misconstrued" by a section of the media.  On being asked about his resignation Tuesday, he asked why he should resign and walked away. Coming out from a meeting on Wednesday morning, Cherian had responded to questions on whether he would be resigning with a query of his own. "Why?" ".. What is the problem? I already said what I had to say yesterday," he said in response to repeated queries by reporters outside the party headquarters on whether he would resign or if his resignation had been sought.

Legal experts that TNM spoke to said that it was the Governor who had the power to take a call in this regard. 

On Wednesday morning, the CPI(M) party general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters in New Delhi that the matter was being discussed by the state leadership and "appropriate action" would be taken.

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