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TN govt plays down Governor’s call for presentation on schemes, depts

Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu on Tuesday issued a clarification after a communication from him to heads of departments on October 18, asking them to prepare a presentation for the Governor, stirred a hornet's nest.

Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi

The  DMK government in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday sought to play down a political controversy brewing over an apparent wish of new Governor R N Ravi for a presentation on the government departments and schemes, calling it a “routine exercise”.

Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu on Tuesday issued a clarification after a communication from him to heads of departments on October 18, asking them to prepare a presentation for the Governor, stirred a hornet’s nest.

“The communication was to prepare a presentation about different departments for the newly appointed Governor. Collecting information about various schemes is a routine procedure in the government. Making it a political controversy was not accurate. Those who are familiar with the government operations know that this was a routine exercise,” said a statement issued by the Chief Secretary’s office.

Senior Congress leader Peter Alphonse, who was among the first to react to reports of the Chief Secretary’s communication, said, “If a newly appointed Governor is going beyond the brief and government norms to interfere in the functioning of the government departments, it is against the interest of an elected government, an insult on people.

“Sometimes this will send out a wrong message that there are two power centres,” he said.

However, senior officials and two ministers familiar with the developments ruled out reports that Governor Ravi, a former IPS officer, was meddling with government functioning.

“As a former IPS officer, maybe he was seen expressing interest in internal security matters, and also trying to find out certain information directly from some concerned officers. It could have been avoided at his end, but whatever happened was all in a cordial manner, and did not trigger an issue,” said a senior officer of the Home Ministry.

Another officer said whatever happened was normal for a newly appointed Governor. It is a part of getting familiar with the government, policies and schemes. “After the Governor took charge in September, Chief Minister M K Stalin visited him twice for reasons such as briefing about the Covid situation. The Governor also visited Mahabalipuram, Ooty and Coimbatore. We have been closely watching his actions. There were no excesses, he did not attempt to review the performance or works of the government departments. Everything was as per protocol,” the officer said.

A senior DMK minister said there was no reason to go against the Governor at present. Dismissing the controversy, he said there was no reason to train guns at Ravi.

Incidentally, a similar controversy and protests had erupted in 2017 when the then Governor Banwarilal Purohit started visiting districts to review government schemes. During Purohit’s visits to Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Cuddalore districts, the DMK, who was then in the opposition, was at the forefront of protests.

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