Updated: July 6, 2022 3:31:07 am
Senior CPI(M) leader and Kerala Fisheries and Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan on Tuesday kicked off a storm by saying that the Indian Constitution endorses the exploitation and loot of the common people.
Speaking at a party function in Pathanamthitta on Monday, Cheriyan said, “A beautiful Constitution has been written in the country. I would say the Constitution has been written in such a manner as to ensure that the maximum number of people are looted. What the British prepared, Indians penned down. Over the last 75 years that it has been implemented, I would say this is a Constitution that ensures the exploitation of the maximum number of people in the country.”
Dismissing ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’ as “kuntham” and “kudachakram’’ — spear and umbrella spoke, a slang to suggest insignificant issues — Cheriyan went on to say, “The writers of the Constitution inserted a few kuntham and kudachakram on the side… you could say a few good things here and there, such as democracy and secularism, but the Constitution is a tool to exploit the common man.’’
As the Opposition Congress and BJP took to the streets demanding Cheriyan’s resignation, the office of the Governor sought details of the minister’s speech.
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Insisting that his remarks have been distorted, Cheriyan said, “As a public servant, I respect the Constitution and uphold its noble values. My party is at the forefront of upholding the demand to protect our Constitution and the values it upholds.’’
While the CPI(M) attempted to ride out the crisis by saying there was no question of the minister quitting and called it a possible “slip of tongue”, Cheriyan’s comments have left the party red-faced considering that it often accused the BJP of weakening the Constitution.
CPI(M) politburo member M A Baby said, “He didn’t criticise the Constitution, but only spoke out against centres of power. If there is any lapse on the minister’s part, it will be rectified.’’
Cheriyan, a two-time legislator from Chengannur Assembly constituency, had last year allegedly raised questions over the morality of Anupama Chandran, who had accused the party establishment and her parents of forcibly taking away her newborn child and putting him up for adoption without her consent.
Cheriyan’s latest remarks have given the already-charged Congress, which has been leading a series of protests against the CPM – including over K-Rail, the gold smuggling case and more recently over the vandalism of Rahul Gandhi’s office in Wayanad — another handle to take on the ruling Left Democratic Front. Congress state president K Sudhakaran declared that the party would start an agitation demanding Cheriyan’s exit if he fails to step down.
Saying that the party would raise the matter in the Assembly, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan said, “Secularism and democracy are kuntham and kudachakram for Cheriyan. His remarks are a violation of the oath of office.”
BJP state president K Surendran said the minister has no right to continue in office. “He is duty-bound to protect the Constitution. He has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. His words smack of the Communists’ disdain for the Constitution. The Chief Minister should sack him from the Cabinet,’’ he said.
The BJP led a delegation to Raj Bhavan, seeking action against the minister. The Youth Congress also complained to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan. KPCC general secretary K P Sreekumar has complained to police in Pathanamthitta seeking that a case be registered against the minister.
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