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Tamil Nadu Governor’s Actions Escalate Tension with DMK Government

Neelambaran A |
The state government has slammed RN Ravi for hailing Sanatana Dharma and supporting the NEET and the NEP.
R N Ravi

R N Ravi. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi is in the thick of political controversy for making public statements favouring the Centre’s policies, praising Sanatana Dharma and criticising the British rule for their theory of the “racial” division of Aryans and Dravidians.

Most recently, the governor decided to hold the 54th convocation ceremony of Madurai Kamaraj University without “consulting the state government”, leading to state higher education minister K Ponmudi boycotting the event.

The office of the governor has been accused of undermining the legislature as 21 Bills passed by the House are pending for months. The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government has also accused the Raj Bhavan of not abiding by constitutional duties.


Since assuming office last September after his turbulent term in Nagaland, Ravi has been accused of functioning as an alternate power centre by the DMK and its allies.

From returning the Bill seeking exemption from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and batting openly in favour of the National Education Policy (NEP), the governor had a turbulent relationship with the state government.

Of late, Ravi during his speeches at public events, including religious meets, has praised Sanatana Dharma and termed the Aryan-Dravidian division geographical, not racial.

At a religious event held on July 11, Ravi claimed that India has been guided by Sanatana Dharma for several thousand years. The DMK’s mouthpiece Murasoli lashed out at the governor and asked him to abide by the law of the land, not “Manu Dharma”.

The editorial also had a piece of advice for the governor to speak to President Ram Nath Kovind to understand what truly is Sanatana Dharma. He should ask the president why he was not allowed inside Jagannath Temple, Puri,” the editorial read. 

DMK spokesperson A Saravanan accused the governor of failing in his constitutional duties and raking up controversy on unnecessary things. “He is not acting on important matters and speaking on unnecessary issues,” he alleged. 

At an event to commemorate the Vellore Sepoy Revolt, Ravi claimed that the British created a false history on the Aryan-Dravidian issue. The DMK again took exception with its parliamentary party leader TR Baalu asking him to read books on the history of the origin of the Aryan and Dravidian races. The DMK is known for formulating Dravidian politics, an alternative to the Brahmanical dominance in the pre- and post-independence period in the Madras Presidency and Tamil Nadu.  


The conflict between the state government and the governor further escalated after the announcement of the graduation ceremony of the Madurai Kamaraj University. The governor’s office was accused of deciding on the event and the guest of honour unilaterally without consulting the higher education department. Subsequently, Ponmudi boycotted the ceremony. The minister, who is also the pro-chancellor of the university, or the secretary of higher education was not consulted before the event.

The Students Federation of India (SFI) members held a protest against the university and governor but were detained by the police. The SFI accused the police of acting in favour of the governor despite him not consulting the state government.

Madurai MP Su Venkatesan, of CPI(M), condemned the unilateral approach of the Raj Bhavan and demanded cancellation of the convocation.

sfi tn

Students Federation of India members being detained by the police during a protest against Madurai Kamaraj University and Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi.

The ceremony was held with the Union minister of state L Murugan as the guest of honour, which the DMK termed a “political stunt” by the governor. 

Ravi had also advocated the NEP at several public meetings soon after the policy was unveiled, attracting criticism from the DMK and the Left parties. The CPI(M) condemned the governor and asked him to discharge his constitutional duties instead of “supporting” the policies of the union government. 


In a RTI response on the status of the NEET Bill passed by the Assembly for the second time since the DMK assumed power, the office has refused to share details. The public information officer in his reply said, “The matter is under a continuous process of the appropriate authority and hence information could not be provided at this stage.”

Prince Gajedra Babu, general secretary of Tamil Nadu State Platform for Common School System, demanded answers to 15 questions relating to Bill’s status.

Apparently, the Bill was passed for the second time on February 8 after the governor’s office returned it in September 2021.

Prince, in a letter to the Speaker of the Assembly, sought clarifications over the Bill’s status. “We learnt from the media reports that the chief minister had made a statement on the floor of the Assembly on May 4, 2022, that the governor’s secretary had informed him that the Bill was forwarded for the President’s assent,” the letter reads.


Response received from the governor’s secretariat on the status of the NEET Bill.

The letter also asked the Speaker to take note of the RTI response and find out the Bill’s status and the action taken by the state government.

The DMK government has already reminded the governor about 21 other pending bills but none of them have been approved. “It is the constitutional duty of the governor to act immediately on the Bills passed by the members of the elected House. But the governor is sitting on the Bills and trying to act as an alternate power centre, which cannot be accepted,” Saravanan further wrote.

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