Banwarilal Purohit was today sworn in as the 25th Governor of Tamil Nadu, taking over at a time when the state is witnessing political churning within the ruling AIADMK and demand by the opposition for a floor test.
In his first public comments after taking oath of office, Purohit assured the people that his decisions would have no political consideration and that he would strive for the state's development.
A former Governor of Assam, 77-year old Purohit was administered the oath of office by Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee at a ceremony in the Raj Bhavan here. He took the oath in the name of God.
The Centre had appointed him last week amid growing demands for a full-time Governor to the state.
After the retirement of K Rosaiah in August last year, Maharasthra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao was given additional charge of Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his cabinet colleagues, DMK Working President and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly M K Stalin and senior BJP leaders, including Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, were among those present.
The swearing-in function saw a bit of controversy as Stalin alleged he was not allowed to greet Purohit as per protocol.
After being sworn-in, Purohit extended his "wholehearted" support to the state government's development activities, saying he will do his 'best' to ensure, among others, more Central funds for the state.
"All the decisions which I am going to take, small or big, there will be no political consideration. The Governor's office is above politics. Everybody can be rest assured. All the decisions will be (taken) on merit," he said.
Purohit's remarks come in the midst of persistent demand by opposition parties, including the DMK, that the K Palaniswami government should be directed to prove its majority in the assembly.
They have been contending that the government was in a minority in the 234-member assembly since 19 AIADMK MLAs loyal to sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran expressed lack of confidence in the Chief Minister on August 22.
The opposition had unsuccessfully insisted on Purohit's predecessor to order a floor test.
However, subsequently one of rebel MLAs had switched side to the Chief Minister-led faction while the other 18 had been disqualified by the assembly Speaker under anti-defection law, which has been challenged in the Madras High Court.
In his brief interaction with reporters, Purohit said his decisions will be guided by the Constitution as he has decided to "preserve and protect" it.
"I am going to wholeheartedly support the government as far as development activities are concerned. I will use my influence in Delhi. I have my good friends in almost all the (central) ministries."
He said there will be "total transparency" in the administration and extended his best wishes to "brothers and sisters" of the state.
Purohit has been involved in social, political, educational and industrial fields in Vidharbha in Maharashtra.
He plunged into active politics in 1977 and entered the Maharashtra Assembly for the first time in 1978 by winning the Nagpur East seat.
He is also credited with revival of 'The Hitavada', an English daily founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the mentor of Mahatma Gandhi.
At the swearing-in, Stalin was seen engaged in an argument with a government official.
Later, talking to reporters the DMK leader alleged he was not allowed to greet Purohit as per protocol.
After the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues felicitated Purohit, the Government Whip greeted, Stalin said contending this was against protocol.
"According to protocol, after the ministers, the Leader of Opposition has to greet. But when I was proceeding, an official said I could not go there and that I should be doing so only after judges greeted the Governor," he claimed.
Stalin said he was allowed to greet the governor only after he stood his ground.
Asked if he will meet the new Governor to take up the prevailing political situation in the state, Stalin said he had issued a statement on reported alleged irregularities in purchase of walkie-talkie for the police department and that he had sought the Governor's intervention in the matter.
"If he sees the statement and based on his response to it and if required, I will meet him later," he said.
Purohit, an experienced campaigner, has his task cut out as the DMK has already expressed confidence that he would act on its plea for a floor test.
Stalin, who had earlier welcomed Purohit's appointment, had yesterday expressed confidence that the new Governor would "take appropriate action" on DMK's plea for a floor test.
"We believe he will not function like the (previous) Governor in-charge (Rao)," he had said.
Rao had come under attack from the DMK for not ordering the floor test as sought by the opposition parties who made a beeline to the Raj Bhavan seeking the governor's intervention.
The matter was taken to the high court where the state Advocate General had argued that the revolt against the Chief Minister was an 'intra-party affair' and the Governor could not interfere.
The opposition had also knocked at the doors of President Ram Nath Kovind with a similar plea.
Dhinakaran too had called on Rao with a plea to remove Palaniswami as chief minister.
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