Thiruvananthapuram: Minister for Higher Education and Minority Welfare K T Jaleel tendered his resignation on Wednesday without waiting for the High Court verdict on his petition against a Lok Ayukta ruling.
The CPM was of the opinion that the minister should resign even if the High Court stayed the Lok Ayukta ruling that found Jaleel guilty of nepotism. The anti-corruption ombudsman had noted in its report that Jaleel was unfit to continue in office.
Though the Lok Ayukta ruling against a minister was rare, CPM had no second thoughts on challenging it in the High Court. The party, however, felt that Jaleel should quit irrespective of the High Court order, and it was conveyed to Jaleel.
Jaleel informed CPM of his decision to quit on Tuesday morning hours before the High Court verdict was to take up his petition.
The former minister went through the Lok Ayukta ruling a couple of days before filing a writ petition in the High Court. Though his advocates were positive of getting a stay, Jaleel was apprehensive. If the stay was not granted, he would have to resign since there was no alternative. Hence he completed the technical process of filing the petition before quitting.
CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had been in contact with Jaleel in the absence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is undergoing treatment for COVID-19. Jaleel held a discussion with Balakrishnan about his future course of action on Tuesday morning.
The chief minister, meanwhile, advised Jaleel to heed to the party’s recommendations. Subsequently, he tendered his resignation to the chief minister, which was forwarded to the Raj Bhavan.
Jaleel was cautious when the case had come up before the Governor and High Court earlier. However, he apparently lowered the guard when Lok Ayukta took it up. The CPM is of the opinion that the advocate’s argument helped in prolonging the Lok Ayukta verdict which otherwise would have come earlier in the thick of the Assembly polls.
The CPM leadership, meanwhile, clarified that the party would decide on whether to draft Jaleel into the Cabinet again if he wins the election and LDF gets a second consecutive term. The Lok Ayukta verdict would not prevent Jaleel from becoming a minister again since the judgment was on the present ministry.
The question of propriety would arise if he becomes a minister within a month after the Lok Ayukta verdict.
The resignation has been a setback to Jaleel both personally and politically, since the Indian Union Muslim League had successfully pitted the Youth League against him. Jaleel was recently questioned by the Central probe agencies in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case. The Lok Ayukta ruling came when it seemed he had survived the testing times.
65th minister to resign
K T Jaleel is the 65th minister to resign in Kerala and the fifth in the Pinarayi Vijayan regime.
D Damodaran Potti and K Chandrasekharan of the Praja Socialist Party were the first ministers to resign in Kerala. The party’s differences with coalition partner Congress led to their resignation from the R Sankar ministry on October 8, 1962.
K K Ramachandran, the Minister of Health in the first Oommen Chandy ministry, resigned on January 14, 2006, barely four months before the Cabinet’s term ended.
Ramachandran resigned after a tape recording of him threatening those who had given statements about alleged corruption being carried out by his office came out in the public.
M P Veerendra Kumar resigned from the second E K Nayanar cabinet two days after taking the oath on April 4, 1987. Intraparty issues in the Janata Party led to his resignation.