Why Face-offs With Tamil Nadu Govt Sparked Governor Ravi’s Meets With Amit Shah Thrice in 9 Months

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Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee

Last Updated: January 20, 2023, 09:23 IST

The year 2023 began with governor RN Ravi suggesting that ‘Tamizhagam’ was a better name for Tamil Nadu, which led to massive protests across the state. (Image: IANS/File)

Despite previous clashes between governors and ruling parties in Tamil Nadu, the recent developments have been unprecedented in the political history of the state

Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi, who has been in the thick of controversy, has visited Union Home Minister Amit Shah thrice in the last nine months to discuss political developments and face-offs in the state.

Despite previous clashes between governors and ruling parties in Tamil Nadu, the recent developments have been unprecedented in the political history of the state.

Governor versus DMK

The year 2023 began with Ravi suggesting that ‘Tamizhagam’ was a better name for Tamil Nadu, while addressing a felicitation programme of organisers and volunteers of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam at Raj Bhavan on January 4. This led to a massive uproar, and protests erupted across the state.

The issue was further precipitated a week later when the governor decided to go off script and dropped references to Dravidianism, skipping names of leaders like BR Ambedkar, Periyar, K Kamaraj, CN Annadurai and K Karunanidhi. Ravi walked out of the assembly in a huff even before the national anthem was played, which received sharp criticism from several quarters.

On January 13, he had called on President Droupadi Murmu as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also briefly met Shah only days after he had walked out of the assembly. According to sources, the meeting with Shah was also to understand why the relationship between Raj Bhavan and the Tamil Nadu government had soured and he was asked to bring the situation under control.

Within a week, on January 18 (Wednesday), Ravi once again met Shah as there were no signs of the controversy dying down. Amid demands of recalling the governor and his effigies being burnt, Ravi did a volte-face, and a communique from the Raj Bhavan was issued clarifying the ‘Tamizhagam’ controversy. In it, he said he had referred to the word in the “historical cultural context”. He also called it “erroneous” and “far-fetched” to infer that he had suggested a change of name for the state of Tamil Nadu.

The NEET controversy

There was also a meeting with Shah in April 2022, soon after an incident where the governor was met with protesters waving black flags in Tamil Nadu’s Mayiladuthurai. Slogans were raised against him and protesters belonging to the DMK, VCK and Left parties expressed their dismay over the delay by the Raj Bhavan in forwarding the Anti-NEET Bill for the President’s assent. This bill was passed twice in the state legislative assembly.

In this meeting, Shah took stock of the NEET situation in the state and it is learnt that the meeting was crucial, especially at a time when the BJP has been trying to make inroads into the southern state that has always voted in favour of Dravidian parties.

Defamation suit against DMK worker

On returning to Chennai after his Delhi meeting on Wednesday, Ravi filed a defamation case against a now-suspended DMK worker, Shivaji Krishnamoorthy.

The case, filed in a Chennai court, is against Krishnamoorthy for his alleged use of expletives against the governor when he famously skipped portions of the speech prepared by the state government. The suspended DMK leader had said if Ravi could not take Ambedkar’s name, he should go to Kashmir.

“If you (Governor) do not read out the speech given by the Tamil Nadu government, then go to Kashmir, and we will send terrorists so that they’ll gun you down,” Krishnamoorthy had said while addressing a public gathering soon after Ravi’s walkout.

The ruling DMK immediately distanced itself from Krishnamoorthy and suspended him for “violating party discipline and bringing disrepute to the party”.

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