I respect Constitution, remarks misinterpreted, Kerala minister Saji Cheriyan tells Assembly

Saji Cheriyan during his speech. Photo: Manorama

Kerala CPM minister Saji Cheriyan on Tuesday said he did not denounce the Constitution. The minister issued a clarification in the State Legislative Assembly amid the call for his resignation for the remarks he made about the Constitution in a recent speech.

In his clarification, Cheriyan said his statements were misinterpreted and reasserted his commitment to the Constitution.

"I respect our Constitution and uphold its lofty values. The party which I belong to is in the forefront of the nationwide campaign for the protection of the Constitution and its values,” Cheriyan told the Assembly in response to the call for his resignation made by Opposition Congress.

Cheriyan, the two-time MLA from Chengannur constituency, is the fisheries and culture affairs minister in the second Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government.

Reading out from a written statement, the minister said he only meant to criticise the successive governments at the Centre that failed to deliver social and economic justice to the people of the country as promised in the Constitution.

“The Directive Principles of the Constitution aim to ensure social justice and economic security for all, but the Constitution doesn't have a provision that allows a citizen to move the court for the implementation of this. Directive principles need to be strengthened further if millions of the people in the country should get justice. Otherwise, the Constitution will not be strong enough to resist the increasing inequalities. I expressed this concerns in my own words. I never meant to insult the Constitution or speak against it,” he said.

He said he was only pointing out the fact that social and economic inequalities have widened in the country as a result of the failure in implementing the Directive Principles of the Constitution. He also cited the toppling of the Left governments in states, including Kerala, using the provisions of the Constitution.

“ The principles of secularism, democracy and federalism as promised by the Constitution are facing huge challenges. The laws meant to protect the rights of labourers have been cancelled. The imposition of labour codes on the people will lead to exploitation. These are part of the policies made by the parties heading the central government. The vision of the architects could not be materialised as a result of the anti-people political policies of the central governments. I was only trying to explain these issues,” Cheriyan said. He also apologised if his remarks conveyed any message which he did not intend to make.

The minister made the controversial remarks while speaking at a recent programme organised by the CPM at Mallappally in Pathanamtthitta district and the issue came to light after visuals of the speech were aired by regional television channels on Tuesday.

"We all say that we have a beautifully written Constitution in India...the most significant aspect of the country. But, I will say, a beautiful Constitution, which can serve to loot the most number of people, was written in the country," he said.

The minister also alleged that the Constitution of the country was "compiled by the British'' and it was written as such by an Indian which has been implemented in the country for the last 75 years.

Values like "secularism" and "democracy" were just inscribed on its (Constitution) sides, he added.

The minister said he won't agree with anyone who preaches the other way in the country.

Stating ours is a country which does not accept workers' protests, he said "Indian Constitution is one which condones the (labour) exploitation the most," and claimed this was the reason certain "millionaires" in the corporate sector have grown in the country.


Opposition calls for resignation
The opposition Congress and BJP have called for the resignation of Cheriyan whose harsh criticism of the Constitution has triggered a controversy in the state.

The Congress has urged Chief Minister Vijayan to remove Cheriyan from the cabinet or face stringent legal action. The opposition parties have demanded that Cheriyan resign as minister as he has violated his oath with his remarks on the Constitution. The Governor also intervened in the matter with his office taking serious note of the speech.

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