Governor-Government tussle in TN should end
The ongoing standoff between the Tamil Nadu government and Governor R N Ravi is not only the result of current grievances but also draws from the ideological position of the ruling DMK. The oft-quoted view of C N Annadurai, the DMK founder, that a state needs a governor like a goat needs a beard, sums up the party’s position on the matter. A party that espouses federalism, the DMK has also seen its governments dismissed twice—in 1976 and 1991—and has often had contentious relations with Delhi.
With the Governor perceived to be sitting on the Bill passed by the state Assembly exempting TN from the NEET, the government is of the view that he is thwarting the will of the people by failing to send the legislation to the President. The government has claimed that at least 19 bills in all are pending with Ravi rather than being passed, an irate Chief Minister M K Stalin recently referring to the Governor’s role as one of a “postman”. In fact, Ravi had raised eyebrows by sending an earlier version of the same NEET Bill back to the House and sharing his reasoning for his action publicly.
The House quickly passed a bill exempting the state from the test again and sent it back to him. Meanwhile, the DMK’s MPs have demanded in Parliament that Ravi be recalled and also had a private member bill introduced to give the Governor a time limit by which s/he must act on legislation. In a fresh salvo, the House this week passed two bills to allow the state government to appoint vice-chancellors to 13 of its universities, another attempt to register its protest against the Governor.
While the role of a Governor can be seen as ceremonial, there is enough evidence that those in the post do act politically, especially when different parties rule at the Central and state levels. Undoubtedly, by choosing not to grant assent to legislation passed by elected representatives, Governor Ravi too is opening himself up to this criticism, his actions lending credence to allegations that he is impeding the functioning of the state government for political reasons. It would serve his—and the state’s—interests to fulfill his duties in this issue in a timely manner.