Governor trying to sharpen ideological contradiction in Tamil Nadu: Thirumavalavan

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Thirumavalan in an interview to The Hindu argues that R.N. Ravi is not just acting against the DMK government but against the political traditions of the State. Excerpts:

January 12, 2023 09:40 pm | Updated 10:49 pm IST

Thol. Thirumavalavan

Thol. Thirumavalavan

VCK has taken strong exception to the recent actions of Governor R.N Ravi. Why do you think he is trying to achieve through these infractions?

Ever since he became the Tamil Nadu Governor, R.N. Ravi has been making controversial statements at public events. He speaks about Sanathana Dharma, spirituality and even said India was built by Rishis and Sadhus. He is very particular about identifying himself as a worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh rather than as a constitutional authority. He recently sparked a controversy saying the State should be called ‘Tamilagam’ and not Tamil Nadu. While both mean the same thing, the State was named Tamil Nadu through a resolution of the Assembly and recognised by Parliament and the Union government. As a constitutional authority, he should call it Tamil Nadu. He is trying to create ideological contradiction — he differs with the political ideology and traditions of the State. He was an IPS officer and served as the Deputy National Security Adviser. He has been the Governor of Nagaland and Meghalaya. He is well-versed in protocols and norms. If he is breaching the constitutional norms, he is doing it consciously. It has serious ramifications — it impacts State-Centre relations, federal structure and constitutional duties of the Governor. It is a well-designed and well-planned effort for 2024 Lok Sabha polls by Sangh Parivar. They want to sharpen ideological differences and create political confusion.

Can you explain a bit more about what you think they hope to gain by raking up these issues?

The Dravidian ideology continues to be strong and has taken root in the State in the last 5-6 decades. They want to weaken the ideology that people believe in...,especially the young people. They want to use the disenchantment of people with the DMK and the AIADMK, which have been in power for decades, and want to use it to their advantage. They want to prevent young people from embracing the DMK and the AIADMK. This is why they are criticising Periyar and the Dravidian parties and ask what the Dravidian parties have done reduce caste differences (and conflicts). The actions of the Governor in the Assembly go against the Constitution and the elected government.

Many have pointed out that the Union governments in the past have used the post of Governor to impede the smooth functioning of the State governments in a similar way...

The difference between what the Congress governments did in the past and what the BJP is doing now is that the former used Governors (against the State governments) for administrative conflicts/reasons, but the BJP is using them for ideological reasons. In India, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have remained ideologically strong [against the Sangh Parivar]. Now, they are eyeing Tamil Nadu. It is unfortunate that the AIADMK and the PMK are helping them. While I welcome the PMK’s condemnation of the Governor’s actions, I have serious doubts about whether they are being sincere and they would stand with the Left parties (on similar issues). They might have criticised [the Governor] because of the fear that they could find themselves in the line of fire in Tamil Nadu. But they [the PMK] have strong links with the RSS and the BJP. As far as the AIADMK is concerned, it is looking [only] at its survival. It is not thinking about saving Tamil Nadu or its traditions. It is committing a historical blunder.

Do you believe that defending the DMK government against the actions of the Governor would protect the Dravidian ideology that it claims to stand for?

We don’t think that the Governor is acting just against the DMK government. We believe he is acting against the political traditions of Tamil Nadu. Dravidian politics is not something that only the Dravidar Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam must defend. It stands for the marginalised people. If the Dravidian ideology gets diluted, Dalits, tribes, women... all of them will be affected. Our intention is not to defend the DK or the DMK; they can defend themselves. We are extending our support to the Dravidian politics.

Despite being a close ally of the ruling DMK, the VCK has planned a protest for January 19 against the disgusting act of mixing faeces in a drinking water tank used by Dalits at Vengaivayal recently...

We have been trained to think that the allies [of the party in power] shouldn’t criticise or protest against the State government as it would spoil the alliance. The alliance is for elections and also for ideological reasons. But why do we even have an alliance in the first place? It is for the welfare of people. For those who stand by the victims, politically, this [protesting against an ally] wouldn’t seem a big deal. One of the main reasons for such an incident to take place in society is because of its social structure. There is a need to call it an inhuman and a barbaric act. This is why we are protesting against it…so that we call attention of society to it. We have organised close to 10 major demonstrations in the last year and a half in Namakkal, Pudukkottai, Kallakurichi, Sankaralingapuram.  

There is criticism that State Government could have done more in this issue….

We understand the role of bureaucrats, those in power [legislature] and how society is designed here. We could have also called for the resignation of the Chief Minister and blamed DMK for the incident. However, we have urged the ruling DMK to take immediate action in this issue. The approach of bureaucrats and the manner in which the system is designed go against the interests of Adi Dravidars. We cannot say that those who are in power for just 5 years are responsible for the incident, though they have to take responsibility for it. We have that clarity and the State government is on our side. Society has an anti-Dalit psyche. We are trying to do what we can with the DMK in power. This protest is a way to exert pressure, not just on the State government but also on society.

Often, there is a debate about the issues faced by Dalits in Tamil Nadu whenever an incident such as the one in Vengaivayal comes to light and then the debate dies down. Does the VCK have any plan to address these issues in a broader manner?

The VCK or one man cannot provide a solution. This is something we all have to get together and do it. Even if I become the Chief Minister, the Tamil Nadu government must operate within the Union government. Without overwhelming public support…politically and ideologically, we cannot change it. It is a long-term process. We will work with the Left and other democratic organisations.

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