Tamil Nadu girl students
In Tamil Nadu, 26 per cent of the women reach higher education level, said the Minister. Image: iStock

Dravidian Model: DMK Minister rebuts TN Governor’s charges point-by-point

‘One who should reside in Kamalalayam is sitting in Raj Bhavan,’ says Thangam Thennarasu

The raucous interview Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi gave to The Times of India on the Dravidian Model is refusing to die down. Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu has given a point-by-point rebuttal to the accusations made by the Governor. Text from the interview given to The Times of India is used appropriately to make sense of the rebuttal, for journalistic purposes.

RN Ravi: The quality of our education has gone down so severely. In the early 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, the standard of our universities was high. Madras University used to be in the top 10. Today, it is the 100th or so. Unfortunately, none of our universities come in the top category.

Thangam Thennarasu: As per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking released by the Union government, Presidency College takes the 3rd place and Loyola College the 4th place in the nation. Governor Ravi can take some time to read how many higher education institutions from Tamil Nadu are there in the NIRF top 100 ranks. 

Also read: TN Governor’s controversial take on Dravidian Model ignites anger

TN has 26 per cent of women reaching higher education. As a person espousing Sanatana, he may not like it.

Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu
Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu. File photo

RN Ravi: When I joined the civil service, TN had the largest number of civil servants. Today, we are way below so many states. So, I started getting poor students in batches, 250 to 300 of them. I give them tips, guide them on how to prepare. I cannot send them back hungry. I have to feed them. I wonder why the government should nurse a grudge about this. 

Thangam Thennarasu: The Governor is doing everything except the role of being the governor. Instead, he is taking classes about Sanatana, attributing wrong notions about Dravidian identity, sings pro-Aryan paeans, distorts Thirukkural, hides the reason why Shivaji waged war, spreads falsities among civil aspirants. 

DMK, Tamil Nadu Governor, R N Ravi, Tamil Nadu governor R N Ravi, Chief Minister MK Stalin
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi in a file photo

He (RN Ravi) is shedding crocodile tears on TN’s higher education. If not for the best education imparted in the state, how would the world’s best industries set foot in the state? He is also making unconstitutional remarks. 

RN Ravi forgets that he lives in a secular country and functions against the Constitution of India, which is against the oath he had taken while taking over as governor. 

RN Ravi: There is no Bill pending with Raj Bhavan. When I came here in (September) 2021, I received 19 bills. I sent 18. One, which was NEET, I reserved for the President because it is in the concurrent list. In 2023, I received seven, all seven have been assented to. 

Thangam Thennarasu: He is spreading lies saying no Bill is pending with him yet confirming that he is yet to give assent to 8 Bills, both in the same interview. At present he is sitting on 17 Bills. 

Also read: Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi blinks, clears Bill to ban online gaming

How could he sit on a Bill banning online gambling which led to the death of 40 people? Only after a resolution was passed against his high handedness he yielded. This exposes how thick-skinned he is.

The Governor is duty bound to give assent to Bills passed by the elected legislature. If he has doubts he can get them clarified. If the state sends back a Bill passed by the legislature, the governor has no option but to give assent to it. But he is sitting on them.

This is an attempt to destabilise the state government. Going through the complete interview, it gives an impression that he hasn’t come here to be the Governor, but to act as a BJP leader. A person supposed to sit in Kamalalayam (Tamil Nadu BJP’s headquarters) is sitting in Raj Bhavan.

RN Ravi: “The speech given to me (by the state government for Assembly welcome address) was…neither policies nor programmes, but propaganda. They said Tamil Nadu is a ‘haven of peace’ in terms of law and order. 

Thangam Thennarasu: The Governor should come clean on what happened after the Gujarat riots in 2002 —  whether the then Governor of Gujarat read the passages given by the government, or he read that there is no peace in the state.

Governor reading out the assembly welcome address is customary. It is the duty of the state government to draft it. The Governor is bound to read it. By not reading it as it is, twisting it, adding new things to it, expunging some of it, the Governor has infringed on the privileges of the house. It is undemocratic.

A resolution was brought in by the CM and passed unanimously that the welcome ‘address sent by the government will be in the house records.’

RN Ravi: If the state government tries to overstep the line, it is the governor’s duty to restrain the state.

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Thangam Thennarasu: The position of governor is a reflection of the state government and not an independent entity. He has to act as such and should not try to play one upmanship. The governor doesn’t have any independent powers.

RN Ravi: “I insisted that the national anthem should be played both at the arrival and departure of the governor.”

Thangam Thennarasu: “He (Governor) who acts as if he owns patriotism should explain why left the house on 19.01.2023 before the national anthem was played.”

RN Ravi: Then the Coimbatore terror attack on a temple. I mentioned the Kallakurichi school death. An unfortunate incident happened, where a girl died by suicide. Four or five days later, 5,000 people came from far and wide, assembled at the school, burnt it down. 

Thangam Thennarasu: Despite the government acting swiftly on the Coimbatore blast case, making arrests and forwarding the case to NIA as it involved multiple states and countries, he (governor) has spoken like a political leader harbouring enmity with the government.

In the Kaniyamur school girl suicide issue, the government brought the situation under control within hours without resorting to police firing. The Governor conveniently feigns ignorance of all the actions taken by the state government. How could it be right on part of a person who is part of the government to criticise the same government?

RN Ravi: What the (Finance) Minister (Palanivel Thiaga Rajan) said was just a bunch of utter lies. Firstly, he said the governor’s discretionary grant as per the finance code is for petty charities, a few thousand rupees to needy persons. He told a lie because the word ‘petty’ was removed from the finance code in the year 2000 itself. 

Thangam Thennarasu: The Governor’s response to the TN Finance Minister’s statement on (Raj Bhavan) spending of discretionary funding is factually incorrect. Unutilised funds lapse by the end of the financial year, said the Finance Minister. But, the Governor’s office has transferred funds to shady accounts every March. The Auditor General has flagged the issue as such accounts don’t come under audit purview. This has been pointed out on multiple occasions citing violation of multiple norms.

The practice is a violation of Tamil Nadu Financial Code and many other norms.

The fund is allocated as per Article-213 of Tamil Nadu Financial Code. It is allocated under the title petty grants. The Governor claims the term petty was removed in 2000. The funding was raised from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 5 crore in 2019. It (the term ‘petty’) won’t be applicable since it was raised to Rs 5 crore.

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