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When Chenna Reddy was Tamil Nadu Governor (1993 – 1996), then chief minister Jayalalithaa boycotted a tea party he gave protesting against his interference in administration.

History has repeated after 27 years. With the number of bills and government recommendations pending for Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi’s assent piling up, DMK and its allies boycotted the tea party that the Governor hosted on April 14, Tamil New Year’s day.

Minister Thangam Thennarasu told reporters that he and fellow minister Ma Subramaniam met with the Governor to request forwarding the NEET Bill to President for approval since a new academic year would begin soon. But the Governor gave no assurance that he will do so.

Since assuming office in September, Governor Ravi has put the shackles on the functioning of the DMK government.

Since assuming office in September, Governor Ravi has put the shackles on the functioning of the DMK government. He had put in cold storage the NEET Bill that sought to exempt Tamil Nadu students from the test. Then he sent back the Bill to the government with reasons even as several protests broke out in the state against NEET. The government passed the Bill once again in a special session. The Governor cannot return it twice and has to forward it to President of India for consideration and approval. But there is no time limit before which he needs to do that. A few weeks ago, Chief Minister M K Stalin met with the governor on the NEET Bill. But the Bill hasn’t been sent yet to President.

Eleven Bills passed by the legislature are pending before the governor. Bills relating to NEET exemption, including five members from self-financing colleges in the Bharathiyar University syndicate, cooperative societies, enabling state government to appoint the vice-chancellors of the fisheries university and veterinary university, conducting TNPSC exams in Tamil, name change of Anna University as well as eight Bills passed during the AIADMK government’s tenure are pending.

The governor has rejected the appointment of a three-member panel headed by retired IAS officer Poornalingam to select the vice-chancellor of the MGR Medical University. The governor has instead extended the tenure of Sudha Seshayyan, current vice chancellor, until the end of this year. The governor has apparently asked the government to set up a new panel to select the V-C and call for fresh applications.

It appears this year, too, NEET will remain unresolved and the status quo will continue. It is another matter that even if the governor forwards it, the President may take his own time to decide on it.

Meanwhile, the government has passed a resolution that the central government should roll back the move to make CUET compulsory for admission to UG courses in central universities. DMK MP P Wilson has introduced a private member’s Bill to fix a timeframe for the governor of a state to decide on a Bill passed by the Legislative Assemblies. T R Baalu has spoken in Parliament about the Center recalling R N Ravi.

In West Bengal and Puducherry, the state governments had ratcheted up the temperature against the governors who were not allowing the smooth functioning of the state governments. In 2019, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao boycotted the flag hoisting ceremony arranged by Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan for Republic Day.

Tamilisai had deviated from the text prepared by the state government during the Governor’s address to the legislature and had talked about central programmes. Hitting back, the government then decided to forego the Governor’s address in Assembly sessions.

The tea party boycott was Dravidian model at work. The DMK has sought to take the issue to the people through this.

In his letter to the Tamil Nadu Governor, Stalin said that, in the interests of the people and state’s welfare, both the state government and the governor should discharge their Constitutional responsibilities which will ensure a smooth relationship between the governor and the government. But it doesn’t seem the governor was convinced by this. Without a nod from the central government, the government cannot expect anything favourable from him. It is quite likely the conflict between the governor and the state government will increase in future.

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