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Kerala Minister Saji Cheriyan Resigns From Cabinet Posts Over Constitution Remark Row

PTI |
The CPI(M) leader, who was facing criticism from various quarters, including the Opposition, over his controversial remarks said those were ‘misinterpreted’ by the media.
Saji Cheriyan

Image Courtesy: The Financial Express

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Minister Saji Cheriyan on Wednesday announced his resignation amidst mounting criticism from various quarters, including the Opposition, over his controversial remarks against the Constitution recently.

Apparently succumbing to pressure, Cheriyan -- a senior CPI(M) leader who holds Cultural Affairs, Fisheries and Youth Affairs portfolios in the cabinet -- met media persons at the Chief Minister's Office  and announced that he has handed over his resignation to CM Pinarayi Vijayan.

He is the first minister to resign from the second LDF government headed by Vijayan.

Amid Opposition calls for his sacking, Cheriyan said it was his independent decision to quit as minister.

He insisted that it was never his intention to disrespect the Constitution for which he has the highest regard and respect.

Cheriyan further said, in his press conference, that his recent speech was incorrectly interpreted or partially depicted or carried by the news media which resulted in conveying a wrong message that he disrespected the Constitution.

"I was hurt by such a portrayal of what I had said. I also believe it was aimed at destabilising the ruling Left government," he said.

He also alleged that it was the Congress and the BJP which have failed many times to uphold the majesty of the Constitution.

Reacting to his resignation, senior Congress MLA and former state minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said, "it was his speech that led to his resignation. However, while addressing the media announcing his resignation, he did not express regret for his words. Cheriyan needs to make it clear whether he stands by his speech against the Constitution."

KPCC chief K Sudhakaran too said that he heard no regret in Cheriyan's voice.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters in New Delhi that the matter was being discussed by the state leadership and "appropriate action" would be taken.

In the morning, the state assembly proceedings were disrupted by the opposition's agitations demanding Cheriyan's resignation leading to the House being adjourned for the day.

A two-time MLA and first time minister, Cheriyan had been representing Chengannur constituency in the state Assembly since 2018.

The 57-year-old leader was considered a strongman of the ruling party in Alappuzha district and a confidante of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Beginning his political career as a student leader of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India DYFI, Cheriyan also held various party posts during his decade-long political life.

Though he had contested for the first time in the 2006 Assembly election, he lost to Congress's P C Vishnunath.

He was elected to the House as legislator in the bye-election in 2018 from Chengannur constituency by a record margin.

During the 2021 Assembly election, he won by a margin of over 30,000 votes beating his nearest rival.

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