No need to quit, minister Saji Cheriyan says after top CPM meet

Deepa article image
Saji Cheriyan comes out after the meeting. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kerala Fisheries and Culture Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan on Wednesday reiterated that he need not resign following the controversy over the remarks he made denouncing the Constitution in a recent speech.

"Why should I? I had already explained everything yesterday," the minister told media persons who asked him about the possibility of his resignation. The media confronted Cheriyan as he came out of a meeting of the CPM's available secretariat which met in Thiruvananthapuram in the wake of the political controversy which triggered widespread calls for the minister's resignation.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, A Vijayaraghavan and T P Ramakrishnan attended the available secretariat in which Cheriyan joined later. Cheriyan is also a member of the CPM state secretariat.

Cheriyan's response after the party top brass meeting could be an indication that the party leadership does not want him to step down.

The government has sought a legal opinion on the consequences of the remarks made by Cheriyan. Opposition parties, Congress and BJP, have already moved the Governor seeking action against the minister on the grounds that he violated his oath by denouncing the Constitution.

Five separate complaints have also been filed against the minister with the police over his remarks.

Earlier in the day, the opposition members staged a protest outside the Kerala Legislative Assembly demanding resignation of Saji Cherian and alleging that the ruling Left front was trying to avoid discussing the issue.

The opposition protested in front of the statue of Dr B R Ambedkar, outside the assembly, after the entire session was adjourned by Speaker M B Rajesh just a few minutes after the question hour began.

Speaking to reporters, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the assembly, V D Satheesan alleged that the ruling front and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan were avoiding questions being raised by the UDF against Cheriyan.

Satheesan said the opposition moved a notice for adjournment to discuss the controversial remarks by Cheriyan and when there was no response to that, they initially raised slogans from the seat and only later moved into the well of the House and protested under the Speaker's dais.

He claimed that it was some of the ruling front MLAs who first left their seats and only after that did some opposition members leave their seats.

Satheesan also claimed that it was 'unprecedented' that the day's session was called off by the Speaker.

The LoP alleged that the remarks of Cherian against the Constitution were similar to the views of RSS.

The CM should demand his resignation or he should be removed from his position, he said.

Targeting Cherian for his remarks, Satheesan said they were not only an insult to the Constitution and the country, but also to Dr B R Ambedkar who headed the committee which drafted the Constitution.

V D Satheeshan
V D Satheeshan. Photo: Manorama Online

In the visuals aired by some TV channels, the minister could be seen saying in a recent event that the Constitution of the country "condones exploitation" and is written in a way helping to "plunder" the people of the country.

Later, in a statement given in the state Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, Cherian said news reports claiming he had criticised the Constitution at an event held at Mallappally in Pathanamthitta district were "distorted".

Cherian's remarks against the Constitution have resulted in protests by the BJP and Congress in various parts of the state seeking his resignation. Effigies of the minister were also burnt.

Both Congress and BJP have also forwarded complaints to the Governor's office seeking his intervention in the matter and alleging that the minister's remarks were unconstitutional and therefore, he should be removed from his post.

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