‘Unfit for job’: Tamil Nadu MPs write to President, seek governor’s removal

Updated on Nov 10, 2022 05:31 AM IST

Parliamentarians from Tamil Nadu’s Secular Progressive Alliance led by the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also listed 20 bills passed in the state assembly that it said were pending with governor RN Ravi since he took charge in September 2021.

Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi and the DMK-headed state government have been locked in an escalating political battle for months.(PTI)
Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi and the DMK-headed state government have been locked in an escalating political battle for months.(PTI)
By, Chennai

Tamil Nadu’s ruling coalition on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to President Droupadi Murmu seeking the removal of governor RN Ravi and saying he was unfit to hold office, ratcheting up hostilities with Raj Bhavan in a rare move.

Parliamentarians from Tamil Nadu’s Secular Progressive Alliance led by the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also listed 20 bills passed in the state assembly that it said were pending with Ravi since he took charge in September 2021.

“The governor has been unabashedly propagating dangerous, divisive, religious rhetoric in public, which is unbecoming of a Governor,” the five-page memorandum read. “His speeches are made with a calculated intent to incite hatred and create communal unrest among the people.”

HT reached out to Raj Bhavan for a response but did not get one immediately.

Ravi and the Tamil Nadu government have been locked in an escalating political battle for months. The relationship between the two sides soured in February last year after the former returned the bill against National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) – seeking exemption for the state from the test – stating it is “against interests of the students, specially the rural and economically poor students of the state”.

DMK and allies met Murmu’s predecessor Ram Nath Kovind in December 2021 and Union home minister Amit Shah in January, demanding the governor’s resignation and requesting consideration of the anti-NEET Bill.

In February this year, all parties, barring the BJP, unanimously passed the bill again. The governor forwarded the same for the President’s assent.

Besides the NEET, the governor has extended its support to the National Education Policy (NEP), which has been opposed by the DMK.

On April 28 this year, the assembly passed a bill empowering the state government to appoint vice-chancellors to universities instead of the governor.

Conflict between the elected government of a state and the governor, who is picked by the Union government, is not new in India, especially if the ruling parties at the state and the Centre are political opponents. But such hostilities have escalated in recent years, especially in states such as West Bengal, Kerala and Telangana. But even by those standards, seeking the removal of the governor by petitioning the president is rare.

The letter, dated November 2 and submitted on Wednesday, contended that the governor violated the oath under Article 159 to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of Tamil Nadu. “Far from it, he has been instigating communal hatred, and is a threat to the peace and tranquility of the State,” it read.

“Some might even consider his statements as seditious as his statements bring or attempt to bring into hatred or contempt, or excite or attempt to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law. Therefore by his conduct and actions, Thiru RNRavi has proved that he is unfit to hold the constitutional office of Governor and therefore he deserves to be sacked immediately.”

The MPs cited the Sarkaria Commission’s report in the 1980s about a decline in the number of governors with integrity. “The image of the governor as merely an agent of the Union sitting in state capitals and desperately seeking an opportunity to run down the state government when it is in the hands of a party opposed to the party ruling at Centre will deform our cooperative federalism and destroy our democracy,” the memorandum said. “The Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi is a textbook example of this malady.”

Other than DMK, the Secular Progressive Alliance comprises the Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), CPI, CPI(M), Indian Union Muslim League and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi.

“Thiru Ravi forgets that he has not won any elections in Tamil Nadu to decide what is good for the people of Tamil Nadu,” the statement said. “Recently he made a comment that India is dependent on one religion like the rest of the world. This statement is an affront to India’s Constitution…In the past, the governor has made similar communal remarks like praising sanatana dharma, communalising the jewel of Tamil literature – the Thirukural and denouncing Dravidian heritage and Tamil pride. These statements have caused deep wounds to the Tamil sentiment and pride,” it added.

The alliance alleged that the governor was not clearing bills passed by the assembly, including The Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical University Bill, 2022.

On the ruling alliance’s allegations, the BJP alleged it is the DMK which is spreading hate. “The governor has the right to look into a bill to decide whether it is good for Tamil Nadu’s public and he has the right to send it back,” the party’s state vice-president Narayanan Thirupathy.

“He is absolutely not at fault. He is doing his duty as per the Constitution.”

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