A friendly pat on the cheeks of a woman reporter by Governor Banwarilal Purohit at his first press conference at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday has created a row with the reporter posting it on her Twitter as a protest.
In her tweet, The Week’s reporter Lakshmi Subramanian said that the Governor “patronisingly and without consent” patted on her cheeks when she asked a question at the fag end of the press conference.
She said she was put off by his gesture. She noted in her Tweet:”It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me, you are wrong”.
Her tweet found immediate traction with hashtags like #Don’tTouchMeGovernor which is trending on social media. Opinions were divided with critics saying she was protesting too much.
The Governor’s gesture cannot have come at a more inopportune moment as his name has been dragged into the affair of college professor Nirmala Devi arrested on the charge that she tried to solicit girl students to do sexual favours to Madurai- Kamaraj University officials.
In an audio clip of her conversation with four girl students, which led to her eventual arrest though the incident happened last month, Nirmala Devi claims access to the Governor whom she refers as grandfather. The Governor has asserted he has not even heard of her.
The timing of the press conference and his announcement of an official enquiry by retired IAS officer R Santhanam has raised the question whether the Governor is trying to distance himself from the controversy.
Leader of the Opposition, M K Stalin has said the Governor has gone beyond his constitutional brief by ordering an enquiry without consulting the State government. The Raj Bhavan has in a press release, has, however, said the Governor does not have to consult the Council of Ministers when he is acting as Chancellor of any university as it is his exclusive prerogative.
Meanwhile, practicing Supreme Court advocate G S Mani has filed a public interest litigation in the Madras High Court for a CBI enquiry. In his petition, Mani has argued that Nirmala Devi, the assistant professor of Mathematics at Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai who has been arrested recently, has in a telephone conversation with girl students claimed access to the Governor.
The petitioner, has, therefore, called for a court-monitored CBI investigation as the enquiry ordered by the Governor may lead to tampering of evidence. His petition is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.