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Explained: After struggling to maintain a cordial relationship, DMK begins to flex muscles with Governor

The ruling DMK is once again targeting Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi after he made some problematic remarks on NEET and the language policy. What provoked the DMK and what's next for Ravi? We explain.

Written by Arun Janardhanan , Edited by Explained Desk | Chennai |
Updated: January 31, 2022 11:13:31 am
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi. (File)

Last October, Dravidian left outfits were building a strong resistance against Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi over his demand for presentations on government schemes from different state department heads. But the Tamil Nadu government led by M K Stalin sought to play it down, calling it a routine exercise. However, the ruling DMK seems to have decided to fire back now after some similar attempts by the government to tone down likely conflicts with Governor Ravi.

To begin with, DMK’s mouthpiece Murasoli published a scathing piece on Saturday warning that Governor Ravi’s recent remarks on NEET and the language policy were crossing the limit. It also reminded him how unpopular he was and how the people of Nagaland, where he served previously, celebrated when he was transferred to Tamil Nadu.

What provoked DMK?

On the eve of Republic Day, Governor Ravi’s speech had some problematic remarks on two sensitive issues in Tamil Nadu—NEET and the language policy.

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While a resolution seeking an exemption for the state from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test has been pending with Governor Ravi for four months and it is yet to be forwarded to the Centre for President’s assent, his public opinion praising NEET was seen as inappropriate. His statement said the representation of government schools in medical admissions increased after NEET implementation. He also stated there was an urgent need to improve the quality of education in government schools.

Another tricky part in his speech was on the two language policy, which is again a unique stand of all major Tamil parties. While the DMK, the AIADMK and all prominent parties support the two language policy and continue to oppose the efforts of the Centre to impose Hindi as a national language, in his speech Ravi said “depriving our students of knowledge of other Indian languages is unfair to all.”

“Besides fostering brotherliness and better mutual appreciation, a linguistic intellectual and cultural cross-pollination will enrich all of us and also open several opportunities for our harmonious growth,” he said.

DMK’s reaction

The DMK’s mouthpiece Murasoli published a write up under the pen name “Silanthi” (Spider) on Saturday reminding Ravi that “this is not Nagaland, but Tamil Nadu.”

Referring to Ravi’s previous career as an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, the article said, “Perhaps, intimidating tactics are required for the police department, may be helpful for many occasions. But in politics, he should realise that such tactics will not help him achieve anything.” The article said the Governor was crossing the limit, “transgressed” his constitutional briefing when he supported NEET, which everyone opposed “except a few Sanghis”.

The “Silanthi” piece also reminded him that people in rural Tamil Nadu are politically conscious unlike those in other Indian states. It advised Ravi to understand Tamil Nadu’s history before making unsavoury comments.

What’s next?

Talking to The Indian Express, two senior DMK leaders, including a minister close to CM Stalin, said the DMK government would like to maintain a cordial relationship with the Governor and the Centre. “Why should we go and fight with them? But here, Governor Ravi has been holding the NEET bill for several months and still chose to make public remarks about the same, which was inappropriate and unbecoming for a Governor. Isn’t it always better and fair for him to do his constitutional responsibilities first before making personal opinions? Both NEET and the release of Rajiv Case convicts are pending for approval, and the Raj Bhawan alone can be blamed for the long delays involved in both cases,” one of the DMK leaders said.

The senior DMK minister said the Governor’s statements on NEET and language policy were “offensive.” “Imagine that it was BJP state president K Annamalai, he can speak whatever he wants. But we cannot afford to have a Governor who speak like Annamalai,” the minister said. “Usually these were single page messages from Raj Bhawan. But when Governor Ravi had a Republic Day message in seven pages, note that it had two anti-government points. What was the connection between Republic Day and Language Policy? All ministers of Stalin’s cabinet are given clear direction to not intervene in Governor’s jurisdiction, not even in the appointments of Vice-Chancellors. We wish to maintain a cordial relationship. But if he crosses the limit, we will be forced to respond in the same manner,” the minister said.

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First published on: 30-01-2022 at 02:33:09 pm
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