Morality of Cherian’s re-entry into cabinet
The High Court had also ruled in his favour in a petition seeking his disqualification as a legislator.
CPM’s Saji Cherian was sworn in as a cabinet minister in Kerala for the second time on Wednesday. The Chengannur legislator who stepped down after making certain controversial remarks on the Indian Constitution returned to the cabinet after a gap of 182 days. Cherian’s re-entry was made possible after the police team that probed the episode submitted its report before the court, giving him a clean chit. The High Court had also ruled in his favour in a petition seeking his disqualification as a legislator. Though reluctantly, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan accepted the chief minister’s recommendation to re-induct Cherian into the cabinet. Khan conveyed his reservation while granting permission for the swearing-in.
Last July, while addressing a party programme in Pathanamthitta, Cherian, then minister for culture and fisheries, made controversial remarks on the Constitution. Stating that the Constitution endorses exploitation and looting of people, the CPM leader said it was written to rob the masses. Cherian said the Constitution compiled by the British and written as such by an Indian was being followed in the country for 75 years. What got him into trouble was his controversial remark that the Constitution contained scattered words like “secularism” and “democracy” and termed them as Kuntham and Kodachakram (a colloquial usage in Kerala to refer to anything and everything under the sun). This naturally had the opposition UDF gunning for his resignation.
The Supreme Court and even constitutional experts have pointed out that the Constitution is not beyond criticism. Even B R Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, has made this clear many times. But there is a difference between criticism and insult, and that is what Saji Cheriyan forgot while remarking. The way Saji Cherian expressed his opinion, rather than the words he used, amounted to insulting the Constitution. It would augur well for a person occupying a constitutional position to fathom this and act accordingly. It was indeed a politically correct move on the part of CPM, which swears by the Constitution every other day, to make him resign within two days after the video footage of the controversial speech surfaced. But, what cannot be missed is that the ground on which he resigned from the ministership persists. By showing haste in re-inducting Cherian, CPM has certainly sacrificed the high moral ground it assumed while making him quit.