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Governor Vs Government: A 'War of Words' in True Sense in Tamil Nadu

Neelambaran A |
Three pairs of words- Tamizhagam and Tamil Nadu, Union government and Central Government & Sanatana Dharma and Dravidian Model- are dominating the politics in Tamil Nadu.
dmk stalin

A 'War of Words' in its true sense is going on in Tamil Nadu between the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the right-wing forces led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Governor of the state, RN Ravi, is also leading the chorus of the Sangh Parivar, straining the relationship between the constitutional office and the elected government.


The term 'Ondriya Arasu' (literal translation of Union government) was first used by the DMK after capturing power in the 2021 Assembly elections. Earlier, the governments in the state, led by the DMK or the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), were using 'Madhiya Arasu' (meaning Central government).

The DMK justifies the usage of the term for two reasons. One is the increasing centralisation of powers by the BJP-led union government, leading to states deprived of several rights and Article 1 of the Constitution of India, which states India as a 'Union of States'.

The Sangh Parivar camp, guided by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, is still furious with the term's usage and has claimed that the DMK is belittling the constitution. The BJP state president K Annamalai accused the DMK of playing with fire by using such a term. Governor Ravi, too is in the thick of the action, rejecting the usage of 'Ondriya Arasu'.

But, the DMK government continued to use the term and announced to replace 'Madhiya Arasu' with 'Ondriya Arasu' in school textbooks. The DMK is one of the strongest advocates of State Autonomy, while the present BJP regime is keen on centralising powers.


Madras State was officially renamed 'Tamil Nadu' in 1969 after years of struggle. The language Tamil and the name of the state have been culturally bonded with people, which is being pricked now by none other than the Governor.

While speaking at an event recently to congratulate the individuals associated with Kasi Tamil Sangamam, Ravi claimed, "Tamizhagam would be more appropriate than Tamil Nadu," leading to an array of responses online from the people of the state and the DMK.

The term 'Nadu' means both Land and Country. Certain sections from the Sangh Parivar argue that a state can't bear the name country within the country. They cite the demand of the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) founded by 'Thanthai Periyar' EV Ramasamy for a separate 'Dravida Nadu' by bringing together the Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu-speaking states, followed by a separate country demand for the Tamils.

The demand waned with time, and the DMK insisted on more autonomy for states and decentralisation. But, the BJP is accusing the DMK of trying to hide its 'secessionist past', despite the fact that the party never placed such demands.

Though Tamizhagam is used frequently, even by the DMK, the recent push by the Governor and Sangh Parivar camp has been treated with caution. Most political parties, including the AIADMK, have also rejected the Governor's comments on the issue.

DMK's mouthpiece, Murasoli, pointed out the names of Maharashtra (land of Marathas) and Kerala tourism department's slogan 'God's own country' and challenged the BJP to question the usage.


Another terminology creating controversy is the usage of the 'Dravidian Model' by the DMK and the 'Sanathana Dharma', used by the Governor and the right-wing forces. The Governor has shown no remorse since assuming office on propagating his personal agenda.

The Governor has repeatedly referred to the Sanatana Dharma as the epitome of humanity. Addressing the 176th Thiyagarajar Aradhana on January 11, he claimed that the Sanatana Dharma originated from Tamizhagam. A week earlier, the Governor had said that the state is facing setbacks due to the 'Dravidian Politics'.

TR Baalu MP and treasurer of DMK reacted by claiming that the 'Sanatana Dharma' promoted separate rules for every community and accused the Governor of functioning against the constitution.

The portions skipped by the Governor in his address to the Assembly on January 9 include the term 'Dravidian Model' used widely by the current DMK dispensation. Chief minister MK Stalin claimed that it's an inclusive policy aimed at developing all sections of society.

On the contrary, the BJP and the Governor have claimed that the Dravidian model is highly regional and divisive. Baalu, in strong words, asked the Governor to resign if he was willing to take over the presidency of Tamil Nadu BJP.

The DMK has pointed to the better human development indices (HDI) achieved by Tamil Nadu as a reference to the Dravidian model and accused the BJP of failing the states it rules. The tussle between the Governor and the elected government seems unending, given the support the former is receiving from the Sangh Parivar camp.

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