The conflict between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and the government of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan isn’t new. However, this time, the spat has taken an ugly turn with the Governor threatening to sack ministers in Mr Vijayan’s government for their remarks against him, which he said lowered the dignity of the Governor’s office. This has seen a sharp retort from the ruling CPM, saying that the Governor was unaware of his Constitutional authority.
The Public Relations Officer at the Governor’s office had tweeted: “Hon’ble Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan said: ‘The CM and Council of Ministers have every right to advise Governor. But statements of individual ministers that lower the dignity of the office of the Governor can invite action including withdrawal of pleasure’.”
Following this tweet, CPM mouthpiece Deshabhimani hit out at Mr Khan, saying: “Governors are conspiring to topple governments in many states. Where none of this is possible, governors create a crisis of governance.”
Experts and political observers have also questioned the legality of the governor’s statement.
Several leaders of the CPIM have pointed out that the Governor has the opportunity to act on his own only when the Cabinet is not in existence and only if the Chief Minister expresses no-confidence in the ministers.
Speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, CPM State Secretary MV Govindan slammed Mr Khan for threatening to misuse his powers.
He said: “The Governor is unaware of the rights enshrined in the Constitution. He does not have the power to oust ministers. The Supreme Court has said that the President does not have the right to recall the Governor. Similarly, the Governor has no right to recall the ministers. He appoints the ministers and accepts their resignation only on the recommendation of the Chief Minister.”