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Saji Cheriyan steps down as minister following Constitution remark row

- July 6, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, July 6 (BPNS)

Left with no choice, Kerala’s fisheries, culture, and youth affairs minister Saji Cherian tenders his resignation from the state council of ministers on Wednesday. Talking to the media after handing over the resignation to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Saji said that to step down was his own volition and he felt that his presence as a minister might impede any free and fair inquiry. However, he stated that at no point did he try to malign the Constitution and further alleged that some including the media tried to picture him as one who belittled the quintessence of the Constitution by circulating selected portions of his speech at Mallapally in Pathanamthitta. Meanwhile, Saji Cheriyan once again didn’t show the heart to repent.

The minister’s resignation, first in the second Pinarayi Vijayan government, was itself dramatic. Earlier on the day, in the Assembly, the Opposition tried to bring an adjournment motion against the remarks of Saji. But the Assembly barely convened for eight minutes as speaker MB Rajesh decided to adjourn for the day citing protests. However, the Opposition alleged that the speaker’s move is unprecedented as the adjournment is to help the ruling front by not providing the Opposition with the opportunity to discuss the issue in the Assembly.

Then, an available secretariat convened at the AKG Centre took the stance that there is no need for an immediate resignation. Saji Cheriyan who attended the meeting also echoed the same as he was seen commenting ‘why should I resign?’. But it is reported that some members of the CPI(M) central committee including secretary Sitaram Yechury were uncompromising and demanded resignation.

The other day Governor Arif Mohammad Khan stated that he is keeping a watch on the issue. While the Opposition including the BJP instantly demanded the resignation of the minister alleging breach of oath, they also knocked at the door of the Governor to intervene and take appropriate action. However, the ruling front CPI (M) rejected calls for the resignation of the minister as CPI (M) politburo member MA Baby was seen stating that the remarks might be a slip of the tongue and added that no criticism was made against the Constitution.

In a widely circulated video clip, Saji Cheriyan was seen saying that the Constitution is written in such a way that it helps to rob and exploit the people of our country. Following the uproar, on Tuesday, he read out a statement in the Assembly regarding his remarks.

“I am a politician who upholds the Constitution and its values. Our Constitution guarantees social and economic justice. But nowhere has it been mentioned that we could approach the court if we are denied the same. There are several such weaknesses. As a responsible social activist, I tried to expose the same. At no point did I disown the Constitution,” said Saji in his statement.

He further stated that his comments might have been deliberately distorted. He further added that if it got misinterpreted he feels sorry for the same.