‘Governor doesn’t have rights’: CM Stalin on dismissal of Balaji from Cabinet

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin Thursday opposed Governor RN Ravi’s move to dismiss minister V Senthil Balaji from state cabinet without consulting him and said “The Governor doesn’t have rights, we will face this legally.”

Earlier today, the governor dismissed minister Senthil Balaji, accused in a money laundering case, “with immediate effect” from state cabinet without consulting the chief minister.

“Minister V Senthil Balaji is facing serious criminal proceedings in a number of cases of corruption including taking cash for jobs and money laundering…Under these circumstances, Governor has dismissed him from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect”, the Raj Bhavan said in an official statement dated June 29.

Balaji is “abusing his position as a minister, he has been influencing, the investigation and obstructing the due process of law and justice,” the statement read.

Balaji, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case on June 14, is in judicial custody till July 12. He has been hospitalised after being arrested in an alleged cash-for-jobs case dating back to 2014 when he was the transport minister under the previous AIADMK government. He joined the DMK in 2018.

The arrested minister had undergone a bypass surgery in a private hospital in Chennai on June 21. The ED had opposed the shifting of Balaji to a private hospital. After the Madras high court allowed the DMK leader to do so, the probe agency had moved the Supreme Court. But the top court refused to stay the high court order.

Balaji was a minister without portfolio and those handled by him were re-allocated to his cabinet colleagues Thangam Thennarasu and S Muthusamy. The DMK leader’s arrest had triggered a flashpoint in the Tamil Nadu governor vs govt tussle.

On the day Balaji was arrested, the chief minister had sent a file to the governor informing him about the arrested minister’s portfolios to be re-allocated to two other ministers. But the governor returned the file, stating that the CM’s reasons were misleading and incorrect. Stalin is said to have called a meeting and sent another file to the governor, pressing him to accept the portfolio changes, which were accepted.

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Updated: 29 Jun 2023, 10:05 PM IST

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