DMK in a spot as TN Governor asks about welfare schemes

TN Governor asks for details on welfare schemes; DMK in a spot

The Chief Secretary wrote a letter to department secretaries on October 18

M K Stalin (L) and R N Ravi. Credit: PTI Photo

Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has asked for details about the functioning of certain departments and welfare schemes being implemented by them from the state government, triggering a political controversy and putting the ruling DMK in a spot. 

Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu has written to secretaries of a few departments asking them to prepare “powerpoint presentations” to be presented before the Governor. The move by Ravi, who was transferred to Tamil Nadu from Nagaland in September, comes a month after he was sworn in as the Governor. 

The Chief Secretary wrote the letter to department secretaries on October 18, days after Chief Minister M K Stalin met Ravi on the issue of seeking exemption from NEET for students from the state. 

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“I am to request you to be prepared to appraise the Hon’ble Governor about your department’s ongoing welfare schemes of both state and the Union Government. A powerpoint presentation may also be prepared for the above-said purpose,” Irai Anbu wrote to the secretaries. 

The Governor’s request and the government responding in the positive has put the ruling DMK in an embarrassing situation due to its long-stated position on “interference by Governor” in the functioning of an elected government. In 2017, when the then Governor Banwarilal Purohit held review meetings with officials during his visit to districts, the DMK had termed it as “clear interference” in the functioning of the government and protested the move.  

While the DMK saw nothing wrong in the Governor’s directive, its ally, Congress, came out against his calling for a presentation on the functioning of certain departments and termed it as a “clear overreach” of the powers of the Governor. DMK spokesperson T K S Elangovan said the Governor’s move cannot be termed as “overreach” and refused to view the development through the prism of politics.

As his letter led to a political uproar, Irai Anbu released a statement on Tuesday downplaying the Governor asking for details. “Since the new Governor has taken charge, I sent a letter to secretaries asking them to keep ready details about welfare programmes. This is a routine development and politicizing this is not right. Those who understand the functioning of the government know this is normal,” he said. 

Congress was also the first party to take objection to Ravi’s appointment as Tamil Nadu Governor citing his “track record” of his tenure in Nagaland. 

“The news that the Governor has asked for details of welfare schemes is shocking. The Governor has no rights under the Constitution to monitor the functioning of the state government or its departments. A Governor is appointed by the President of India and not elected by the people,” TNCC chief K S Alagiri said in a strongly-worded statement. 

Alagiri reminded the governor that the responsibility and duty of implementing schemes rest with the Chief Minister who has been elected by the people through MLAs. 

“Under the circumstances, the Governor’s move is unconstitutional and has ulterior motives…The governor should extend his cooperation to Chief Minister M K Stalin who is delivering governance in the past six months instead of interfering in administration,” Alagiri said and wondered whether the Governor was trying to help BJP grow in Tamil Nadu.  

Senior Congress leader and Tamil Nadu Minorities’ Commission Chairman S Peter Alphonse also took strong exception to Governor Ravi’s directive. 

“The Governor should function within the powers accorded to him under the Constitution. Chief Minister M K Stalin had earlier opposed review meetings by the then Governor Purohit. He will certainly resist the pressure,” Alphonse said. 

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