The ongoing battle between Kerala Governor and the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) escalated on Thursday, with Arif Mohammed Khan rejecting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's allegation he was politically interfering in the appointment of vice-chancellors (VCs), and charged the latter's office with "patronising" smuggling activities.
The governor offered to resign if even one example of the his intereference in appointment to the university VCs could be shown.
Alleging that the Chief Minister's Office was patronising smuggling activities in the state, he contended that in such a situation there were grounds for him to interfere.
"I have never interfered. But now I see all smuggling activities are patronised by the office of the Chief Minister (CMO). Now books are being written. People sitting in the CMO dictate Kannur University VC to appoint their relatives -- underqualified and unqualified. I have never interfered." "But if the state government, the CMO and the people close to chief minister are involved in smuggling activities, definitely there are grounds for me to interfere," he said.
Mr Khan also openly challenged the chief minister, asking whether he would be able to resign if he was unable to prove or substantiate his allegation.
"They (Left government, chief minister) are saying I am doing this (action against VCs) to bring RSS people. If I have nominated even one person, not just of RSS, any person, on my own using my authority, then I will resign. Will he (chief minister) be able to resign if he is not able to prove it? I am asking you (the media)," he said, speaking to reporters in New Delhi.
"When you make such a serious charge against me, you have to substantiate the same," Khan added.
He was responding to reporters when his response was sought on Mr Vijayan's allegations against him on Wednesday at a convention in Thiruvananthapuram where the chief minister said the Governor was trying to make universities in the state, centres of RSS and Sangh Parivar and that Khan was trying to implement the saffronisation agenda of these groups.
Khan and the LDF government are at loggerheads over a number of issues including the appointment of vice chancellors as well as various bills passed by the state Assembly pending in the Raj Bhavan.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)