Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. (Photo: Twitter)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In an unprecedented action, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Monday held a press conference at the Raj Bhavan here to level serious allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the LDF government led by the CPM, in connection with appointments to varsities and a conspiracy to silence him.
Displaying visuals of the protest held against him at the 80th Indian History Congress in Kannur in December 2019 on TV screens installed at the press conference venue, Khan alleged that there had been an attempt to intimidate him.
He accused K.K. Ragesh, private secretary to Chief Minister Vijayan, of preventing police personnel from taking action against the protestors.
Asked why he was raising the matter more than two years after the incident, the Governor said the police should have taken suo motu action as it was a cognisable offence.
He quoted from Section 124 of the IPC which says anyone who assaults or wrongfully restrains, attempts to restrain President of India or the Governor from exercising their duty is liable to be punished with imprisonment up to seven years and a fine.
The press conference was the latest episode of back-to-forth allegations levelled by the Governor and Chief Minister. It all began with the Governor's decision to freeze the appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of K.K. Ragesh, at Kannur university on August 17.
Khan accused the government of legalising illegalities through measures like ordinance and Bill. The Universities Bill and Lok Ayukta Bills passed by Kerala Assembly recently are pending with the Governor for assent.
At the press conference, Khan said he would not sign the bills as they were aimed at culling the powers of Chancellor (Governor) and the Lok Ayukta. The Bill sought to give more powers to the government than the chancellor in appointments in varsities.
Khan also made it clear that he would not give assent to LokAyukta Bill which gives powers to the accused to sit on judgment on complaints against him. "I can't allow the accused to judge their own cases," he added.
The Governor alleged that the Chief Minister had intervened in the appointment of Kannur University Vice Chancellor.
He released letters exchanged between him and the Chief Minister regarding the dilution of the autonomy of the universities and the undue interference in the functioning of Raj Bhavan.
In response, ruling LDF convener E.P. Jayarajan said the Governor had no right to continue in office after making such baseless allegations against the Chief Minister and the government. CPM state secretary M.V. Govindan refuted all the allegations levelled by Khan and described him as the spokesman of the Sangh Parivar.
The opposition Congress-led UDF welcomed the Governor’s decision on not signing the universities and Lok Ayukta Bills. However, leader of the opposition V.D. Satheeshan said the allegations levelled by the Governor and the CPM-led LDF against each other were another drama.
BJP state president K.K. Surendran demanded the registration of a case against the Chief Minister’s private secretary and his immediate arrest.