Govt ‘rejects’ Governor’s sacking of Senthil Balaji
The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu on Friday strongly asserted that appointment and dismissal of ministers is the sole prerogative of the chief minister and lashed out at Governor R N Ravi for his move of dismissing V Senthil Balaji from the MK Stalin-led Cabinet, which was subsequently retracted on the advice of the Union Home Ministry on the matter.
Stating that the Tamil Nadu government was “disregarding” the Governor’s action of sacking Balaji, Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu said Stalin will write a detailed letter to Ravi on the matter.
The party also said it may weigh all options and legal factors related to Ravi’s action, which came in for criticism from allies of the ruling party as well as other quarters.
Addressing the press here along with Law Minister S Reghupathy and Rajya Sabha member P Wilson, who is also an advocate, Thennarasu recalled Stalin earlier saying the Governor has no right to sack Balaji and that the issue will be faced legally.
He alleged that Ravi acted “unilaterally” and “in haste” over the matter and decided to dismiss Balaji without getting proper counsel, only for the Union Home Ministry to point out that he should speak to the Attorney General on the matter.
“After that, he wrote to the chief minister saying he was keeping in abeyance the letter informing of the dismissal of Senthil Balaji,” the minister said.
“In this matter, the CM is going to send a detailed letter to the Governor. The Governor has no legal authority to dismiss Senthil Balaji nor is there any Constitutional basis to do so.”
“It is the sole prerogative of the CM to appoint and dismiss ministers…this has been made clear by CM to Governor and that his action is not valid,” he added.
Thennarasu said a governor should “apply his mind” before taking a decision, and reiterated that Ravi acted in haste in this matter.
Therefore, “this government rejects (the Governor’s action) completely. The Tamil Nadu government makes it clear the Governor has no authority to do so,” he asserted.
“We disregard the letter,” he said, adding that all legal options will be explored as part of future course of action.
Earlier, the CM went into a huddle with legal experts on the matter.
The party brass may consult its leaders and office-bearers to devise a strategy — both legal and political — on the matter, sources said.
“The Governor has backtracked and he has been exposed thoroughly,” a DMK office-bearer told PTI adding that all the “political maneuvering” of the BJP to target the DMK has been backfiring in Tamil Nadu.
On Thursday, hours after dismissing Balaji from the Cabinet, Ravi later kept the order in abeyance.
The DMK may however consider weighing legal options to take on Ravi for his alleged excesses and fight the BJP politically at the “right time” and as and when warranted, sources added.
Senthil Balaji is an influential leader in the western Kongu region. He was previously with the AIADMK before joining the DMK a few years ago.
The ruling DMK’s party organ ‘Murasoli’ said Ravi’s dismissal directive was “put on hold within five hours as per the advisory of the Union Home Ministry.”
Briefly explaining the sequence of events on June 29 related to the dismissal order, the Tamil daily underscored the “strong condemnation” it evoked from legal luminaries and party leaders.
The daily said that by midnight “information” came that the dismissal order was being held in abeyance in order to solicit the Attorney General’s opinion on the matter. “It is noteworthy that the Governor’s order was put on hold in five hours.”
In a late evening communication to the chief minister, the Governor said he would consult the attorney general and seek his legal opinion about the move. The governor had explained the reasons for his removing Balaji from the cabinet.
The order to dismiss Balaji, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a cash-for-jobs scam and since hospitalised, from the Council of Ministers has been kept in abeyance by the governor until further communication.
Meanwhile, posters sprung up in the city, asking whether “Guindy would write to Delhi” about the pending cases against a set of union ministers, and seek their ouster from the Cabinet. Guindy, an obvious reference to the Raj Bhavan in Chennai, is where the Governor’s residence is located.
Meanwhile, BJP state unit chief K Annamalai questioned DMK’s “double standard” in approaching a governor against a minister.
“It is our duty to bring to people’s notice what Mr M K Stalin himself has said when he was the Leader of Opposition. As opposition leader he wanted the Governor to dismiss one particular minister from the (previous) AIADMK government…that is a double standard we are bringing to people’s attention,” he told reporters here.