Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has sought details on welfare schemes, bringing back the focus on DMK's protest against his predecessor when it was in opposition, over review meetings and tours, while the government said it was a usual practice which should not be politicised.
The DMK, now in the ruling saddle, said getting to know about welfare schemes is nothing wrong, while its major ally, the Congress, dubbed the move as not in sync with convention and hence wrong.
Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu, who had earlier written to various heads of departments in this regard, averred it was a "usual administrative process" and that it was "not proper to make it a subject of political controversy."
Government sources here indicated on Tuesday that Governor Ravi has sought to know about the functioning of departments and ongoing welfare schemes of both the state and as well as the Centre.
In a letter to heads of departments, Irai Anbu said the Governor, "wishes to know about the functioning of certain departments in the state and its ongoing welfare schemes of both the state as well as the union government."
The Chief Secretary requested the heads to be prepared to apprise the Governor, "about your department's ongoing welfare schemes of both the state and the union government."
A power point presentation may also be prepared for the purpose and it is to be discussed before the presentation.
"The date and time will be intimated soon," the letter dated October 18 said.
Government sources indicated the letter has been sent to department heads which was only a routine official exercise, while Raj Bhavan sources declined to make a comment saying it is 'confidential.'
The letter from the Chief Secretary to the department heads assumes significance as the DMK, when it was in the opposition (2016-21) had staunchly opposed former Governor Banwarilal Purohit's meetings with officials to review schemes and his tour of districts.
The DMK had staged protests against Purohit, waved black flags and dubbed his action an attack on the state's autonomy. The DMK's allies, including the Congress, had also actively participated in such protest demonstrations.
Purohit, had, however, strongly defended his action saying it was within the framework of the Constitution.
Subsequently, Purohit ceased to hold such review meetings though the AIADMK, which was then holding the reins of power, did not object to it.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Tuesday, Irai Anbu said his official communication has turned into "an unnecessary debate."
With the Governor having taken over recently, he had written the letter to the concerned to keep all data on the various development projects ready, the official said.
"It is routine in the administration to collect and keep such data on schemes and implementation. It is not proper to make it a subject of political controversy. Those aware of the government's administrative matters know this is a usual practice," he said.
In its reaction, the ruling DMK said there is nothing wrong in Governor Ravi seeking to know about the welfare schemes.
"In fact, it is the Governor's duty to know about welfare schemes," a DMK spokesperson told PTI.
When asked about his party's opposition to Purohit's review meetings when the AIADMK was in power, spokesperson J Constantine Ravindran said: "Only if the Governor interferes in the administration it is not acceptable. Without the knowledge of the Chief Minister, if the Governor directly instructs officials, that is unacceptable. This is completely different. The Governor only wants to know about departments and welfare schemes implemented by them. There is absolutely nothing wrong in getting to know about such schemes. This is official."
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K S Alagiri said a governor interfering in the day to day work of an elected government, or 'reviewing' or making an 'appraisal' is not the convention and hence 'wrong.'
Only in specific circumstances, like a law and order issue or calamity, a Governor may hold discussions with officials.
"Will the President seek to know about what is happening in the Central government ministries/departments," he asked.
The Prime Minister or a Chief Minister, periodically apprising the President and a Governor respectively of government matters is the tradition that is being followed, Alagiri told PTI.
Recalling the opposition to Purohit in the past over review matters and his tours, Alagiri said the present case was also similar.
"This is not the tradition and hence wrong," the TNCC chief said.
Purohit was the Tamil Nadu governor from October 6, 2017 till Ravi assumed office recently.
Ravi was sworn in as Governor of Tamil Nadu on September 18 this year. Previously, he had been Nagaland Governor.
A former IPS officer, he has worked in various capacities including in the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau.
The Congress party had then criticised the Centre for appointing him, saying 'it is suspicious' since a former senior police official was chosen.