The appointment of retired IPS officer Ravindra Narayan Ravi, who was formerly Governor of Nagaland, as Governor of Tamil Nadu, has cast a shadow over a wide spectrum of political parties in the State. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri, CPI(M) State secretary K Balakrishnan and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi general secretary Thol Thirumavalavan are among those who have openly opposed the appointment. Alagiri compared it with the appointment of retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi as Lt-Governor of the Union Territory of Puducherry and its after-effects in the political history of the Union Territory. He did not have anything personal against the new Governor but wished the government had appointed an educationist or a scientist as Governor of Tamil Nadu and not a former IB officer.
Such persons should have been appointed in terrorism-hit States. After his oath-taking ceremony in Chennai, Ravi said Tamil Nadu had a popular government mandated by the people. Governance was the responsibility of the government and the Governor was to function within the parameters of the Constitution. “I will try my best to keep that in mind,” he said. Within a week of taking over as Governor, he left for Delhi. The ruling DMK holds its annual celebration in the month of September and it is customary to release select prisoners on that occasion. Chief Minister MK Stalin has submitted a list of 700 prisoners to the Governor this year. He is yet to clear the file. The government may have to do away with the release of prisoners this year.
The BJP is very keen on having at least a token representation from Tamil Nadu in the present Lok Sabha. In his maiden Lok Sabha election campaign in Tamil Nadu in 2014 Mr Narendra Modi asked the voters, “Do you want this lady or Modi?” The lady he was referring to was the AIADMK leader J Jayalalitha who was entertaining hopes of emerging as leader of the single largest party and staking her claim to form a coalition government at the Centre. The people of Tamil Nadu voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ‘lady’. In 2019, the BJP aligned with the then ruling AIADMK and drew a blank. To break the jinx, observers say the party has chosen the ‘Puducherry model’ for Tamil Nadu. Puducherry remained electorally as inhospitable to the BJP as Tamil Nadu, but with the help of power gently applied by ex-police officer Bedi, the Union Territory has come under the National Democratic Alliance. Using a confrontationist strategy she ensured the Congress-led government of Narayanaswamy was unable to implement any of its social-welfare schemes.
The BJP can now boast of its ability to win the lone Rajya Sabha seat of Puducherry. As a first step to win Tamil Nadu, K Annamalai, a Tamil origin IPS officer of the Karnataka cadre, has been made president of the State unit of the BJP. With Ravi in the Chennai Raj Bhavan, it remains to be seen how far the ruling party succeeds in 2024.