Tamil Nadu Governor R.N.Ravi Wednesday said that he didn’t want the name of the state to be changed to ‘Tamizhagam’, clarifying that he used the word in a “historical cultural context” and the interpretation was “erroneous and far-fetched”.
The statement comes two days after the Tamil Nadu BJP chief K. Annamalai said that the remarks on name change were “unnecessary”.
The governor, who is on a two-day visit to Delhi, said in a statement that he felt the need to issue a clarification because his critics were making arguments about his usage of the word ‘Tamizhagam’ without understanding the basis of his speech.
“In an event at Raj Bhavan on January 4, 2023 to felicitate the volunteers of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, a recently concluded month-long festival celebrating the age old cultural connect of Tamil people with Kashi, while dwelling upon the historical cultural connect between the two, I referred to the word ‘Tamizhagam’. In those days, there was no ‘Tamil Nadu’,” read the statement issued by Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan.
The statement also added: “Hence in historical cultural context, I referred to the word ‘Tamizhagam’ as a more appropriate expression. An interpretation or inference that it was a suggestion to change the name of Tamil Nadu is erroneous and far-fetched.”
The governor’s clarification comes at a time when he is locked in a conflict with the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government, which has often criticised Ravi as someone who “tries to please” the BJP.
Despite the clarification, the DMK said this was not an isolated incident, and the ruling party’s criticism of the governor goes beyond the ‘Tamil Nadu vs Tamizhagam controversy’.
“This is not just about the Tamil Nadu vs Tamizhagam controversy. This has to be looked into how this governor has been behaving in the last 18 months. It also needs to be seen how governors of other non-BJP ruled states are behaving. Governor Ravi also went on to say Dravidian rule ruined Tamil Nadu. But is it true? No. We are ranking number one in most socio-economic metrics.
“In the assembly too, he deviated from the script. This has never happened ever before in the state assembly. Mr Ravi has been kindling controversies time and again, and he has put on hold 20 bills. The governor has shown profound disregard to the 8 crore Tamil people,” DMK spokesperson Salem Dharanidharan said.
Meanwhile, the BJP state unit has alleged that the whole controversy has been created by the DMK.
Speaking to the Print after the governor’s statement, Tamil Nadu BJP vice president Narayanan Thirupathy said, “The governor never referred to a name change in the event. The governor has clarified the same. The DMK has unnecessarily provoked and created ruckus to hide their failures in the government and governance.”
A day after the governor’s 4 January speech, senior DMK leader and MP T.R. Baalu in a strongly-worded statement had said, “Tamil Nadu, Tamils and Tamil language taste bitter for Mr. Ravi. It is for him to make a decision to leave them. Since the state BJP unit already has a leader, he should function according to the Constitution instead of speaking against the Tamils…He has the habit of expressing absurd views about Sanathana, Ariyam, Dravidam, Tirukural, Scheduled Caste, and Dr. Ambedkar in functions he attends. It is not difficult to understand his agenda.”
Last week, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin took a dig at the Governor referring to him as the “one guy who is ranting against calling the state Tamil Nadu.”
DMK ,Murasoli wrote, “He says the name Tamil Nadu indicates a sovereign nation. Does the name Rajasthan sound like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, or Turkmenistan to you? Isn’t Maharashtra a secessionist name for its name indicates the land of Marathas? Kerala’s tourism slogan, ‘God’s own country’, may also be a demand for a nation-state status. Isn’t it problematic for you to find a ‘Desam (land)’ in Telugu Desam Party?”
Ever since the row erupted in the first week of January, the state has seen several posters being placed against Governor Ravi and hashtags like #TamilNadu and #GetOutRavi going viral on social media. In the district of Coimbatore, the governor’s effigy was burnt by the members of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam. On the first day of the state assembly session for 2023, members of the DMK, Congress and the VCK also raised slogans against the governor and staged a walk out from the assembly.