For the first time during his tenure, on 29 June, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi rolled back a decision he took within 24 hours of passing an order.
Ravi had issued an order to remove state minister Senthil Balaji from Tamil Nadu Cabinet without consulting TN Chief Minister MK Stalin. When faced with both a legal crisis and stern criticism from the governing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies from across the country, Governor Ravi rescinded the order. Ravi's ordered Balaji to be removed from office as the Enforcement Directorate had arrested him earlier this month in a bribe case. The DMK has been claiming that Balaji was targeted by the Centre to arm-twist the Dravidian party which confronts the BJP and PM Modi every step of the way in Tamil Nadu.
But will the standoff between the governor and government in Tamil Nadu have an impact on Lok Sabha elections 2024?
What the DMK Thinks About Lok Sabha Elections and Governor Ravi
When The Quint reached out to DMK leaders, the party's stand was crystal clear: the Governor-Government standoff will only help the DMK in the upcoming elections.
"We think that Governor RN Ravi stands to illustrate what the BJP really is like – authoritarian and unconstitutional. When such a person tries to arm-twist the DMK, the Tamil public will stand with the party," Saravanan Annadurai, a spokesperson of the DMK told The Quint.
According to other DMK leaders, Ravi has not yet won the favour of people because he has been "unnecessarily" confrontational with the government.
"This is an elected government – a government which won by a huge majority in 2021. A Governor interfering with the autonomy of Tamil Nadu does not bode well for the Centre which sent him here," a senior DMK leader told The Quint.
Ravi had several run-ins with the government in the recent past when he stalled the clearance of several Bills passed in the Legislative Assembly. He was also criticised for his comments on 'Sanatana Dharma' and Thamizagam.
"In each of these instances, the public mood supported the DMK's stand. Ravi was being seen as a troublemaker mostly," the DMK leader quoted above said. According to Saravanan Annadurai, even the AIADMK and the BJP has kept its distance from the government, this time. "They are on shaky grounds and they know that," he said.
The Governor stalling welfare measures stuck in Bills and ousting a Minister from the Cabinet, therefore will not have any impact on how the DMK is perceived in the elections. "We will in fact benefit from this rabblerousing Governor," Annadurai said.
What's In Favour of Ravi and What Is Not?
The only factor which may help the Governor in this case is that Senthil Balaji is being widely perceived as a tainted minister. Not many public voices, except that of politicians, have come out in support of Balaji, even though the DMK tried to bring several Opposition parties together to bat for him and against the Centre's alleged misuse of investigation agencies.
According to DMK sources, the campaign for Balaji had not worked till Ravi stepped in and ousted him from the Cabinet.
Even DMK allies including the Congress were hesitant to publicly support the minister at first. The Opposition meeting called in TN earlier this month only rallied against the alleged use of Central agencies to muzzle state governments which do not favour the BJP.
When Ravi issued the order to oust the minister, it gave a reason to support Balaji. From CPI(M) to TMC several parties voiced their opinion against the Governor's decision to oust Balaji without consulting the state government.
"I think his involvement clearly demonstrated the truth in our claim that the Centre is targeting Opposition leaders," a DMK leader said.
Should Ravi continue to create hurdles for the DMK government, the Dravidian party may stand to gain.