TN crisis: Governor Ravi questions presence of arrested minister in CM Stalin’s cabinet

Reacting to developments, AAP MP Raghav Chadha highlights recent cases where Governors interfered with the decisions of democratically elected governments

| Updated: 16 June, 2023 10:26 pm IST
(Clockwise, from left) TN CM MK Stalin, Governor RN Ravi, DMK leader and MLA V Senthil Balaji

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi appeared to have pushed the state towards a constitutional crisis with his unilateral decision.

Governor Ravi, who is the father of a member of the Economic Advisory Council to PM Prof Shamika Ravi, and the state’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government are embroiled in a fresh dispute over the continued presence of V Senthil Balaji in the Stalin cabinet following his arrest.

Governor Ravi expressed opposition to Balaji remaining in office while facing criminal proceedings.

Balaji, who was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with an alleged cash-for-jobs scam, has been granted eight-day custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Raj Bhavan in Chennai announced that Governor Ravi has reallocated Balaji’s portfolios based on the recommendations of TN Chief minister MK Stalin. However, the governor has not approved Balaji’s continuation as a member of the Council of ministers. Consequently, Balaji now holds the position of minister without portfolio.

The DMK spokesperson, Saravanan Annadurai, criticised the governor’s decision, suggesting that the statement should be disregarded. “Governor’s statement must be thrown into the trash,” he said.

“What is the link between someone continuing in the cabinet and the governor? If someone qualifies to continue as an MLA, that person can continue as a minister as well. This is the verdict in the Jayalalithaa case,” Annadurai said.

Reacting to Governor Ravi’s shocking decision, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha highlighted the recent cases where Governors had intervened in the decisions of democratically elected state governments.

“Another case of the tyranny of the unelected. The governor of Tamil Nadu has unilaterally remarked that an MLA can’t continue as a minister – something that is unheard of. Constitutionally, the council of ministers is the CM’s sole prerogative, not Governor’s,” Chadha said in his tweet.

Citing the recent cases in Punjab, Delhi, Bengal and Tamil Nadu, where Governors have allegedly excessively overstepped their bounds, Chadha said, “In Punjab, the Governor had refused to summon the budget session of the Assembly and rejected the cabinet’s resolution to this effect.”

“In Delhi, the LG has consistently and systematically paralysed governance and crippled the elected government,” he tweeted.

“What we are witnessing across non-BJP states is a dangerous trend. Governors are not above the law. The people of India elect their governments and Governors are bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The tyranny of the unelected Governors must not go unchecked,” he added.

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As per Chief Minister Stalin’s recommendations, Balaji’s portfolios have been reassigned. The electricity and non-conventional energy development portfolio formerly held by Balaji has been allocated to Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu.

Additionally, the prohibition and excise departments, along with the molasses department, previously under Balaji’s purview, have been assigned to Housing and Urban Development Minister S Muthusamy. Thennarasu and Muthusamy will handle these new responsibilities in addition to their existing portfolios.

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This portfolio reallocation follows the DMK’s accusation that Governor Ravi refused to accept Stalin’s previous recommendation regarding Balaji.

Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi asserted that a minister cannot be removed simply because they face a case, emphasising that the Chief Minister holds the constitutional authority to decide on portfolio allocations and the inclusion or removal of ministers from the Council of Ministers rather than the governor.

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