Kerala Governor Arif Khan holds state govt to ransom, gets senior IAS removed

The decision to remove principal secretary Jyothilal from GAD and appoint Sarada Muraleedharan in his place followed a brief discussion in the CPM state secretariat on Thursday afternoon.

Published: 18th February 2022 06:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th February 2022 06:41 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Arif Mohammed Khan held the state government to ransom on Thursday, on the eve of the Assembly session, by refusing to sign the costomary governor’s address, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to relent. The tussle had an unexpected casualty — KR Jyothilal, a senior bureaucrat with an unblemished track record.

Jyothilal was shunted out from the powerful general administration department (GAD) as Khan conveyed strong displeasure over the letter he had sent to Raj Bhavan, along with the appointment order of BJP leader Hari S Kartha as an additional PA to the governor. 

The decision to remove principal secretary Jyothilal from GAD and appoint Sarada Muraleedharan in his place followed a brief discussion in the CPM state secretariat on Thursday afternoon. Pinarayi, who visited Khan at the Raj Bhavan earlier in the day, briefed the party body that the governor was upset over the letter dated February 14 by Jyothilal. 

The chief minister even hinted at an unprecedented situation if the Raj Bhavan further delayed approving the speech as the assembly is set to convene at 9am on Friday with the governor delivering the policy address. The secretariat advised the CM not to escalate the matter as that would lead to an unwanted controversy when the assembly would be in session and the party is gearing up for triennial state conference. “The gubernatorial role is a necessary evil. We need to understand that and take a cautious approach,” said a senior CPM leader. 

Opposition slams Pinarayi, terms IAS officer’s sacking betrayal

In the letter, Jyothilal had said that the government approved the appointment of Kartha as the governor ‘desired’ for that. The letter also said there was no precedent of appointing political leaders in Raj Bhavan. According to sources, these remarks were part of the notes by Pinarayi in the file related to the appointment.

In addition, Jyothilal was specifically directed to convey the displeasure of the government in writing. The governor was agitated over the uncharitable remarks as political workers and cronies of the leaders dominated the personal staff of CM and ministers. It is learnt that he raised the issue with the CM and asked him why the exchequer paid millions as pension for personal staff members of ministers who serve for at least two years.

According to sources, the meeting dispersed not in a cordial manner and sensing the gravity, Chief Secretary V P Joy drove into the Raj Bhavan. Governor told the CS that the act of the GAD secretary was unpardonable. The input of the CS was also crucial in CM acting quick to remove Jyothilal. Earlier in the day, the state cabinet decided to confirm the service of P Dileep Kumar, working as photographer in the Raj Bhavan, on contract basis.

The cabinet note regarding the same specifically noted that the appointment is made against ‘Governor’s recommendation’. It is learnt that this too hasn’t gone down well with Khan. Opposition Congress didn’t waste the opportunity to pounce on Khan and Pinarayi with KPCC president K Sudhakaran terming the decision to dump Jyothilal as ‘betrayal’. Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said, “It is the BJP government at the Centre that is controlling the governor. Now he is undertaking those roles as briefed by the Sangh Parivar.”


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