Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has brought himself into the eye of a controversy by patting a senior lady reporter on her cheek without taking her consent. The journalist's tweet about the incident has gone viral, and a collective of journalists in Chennai is preparing to demand a formal apology from the Governor.
The senior journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, is a reporter for a well-known weekly magazine. The tweet sparked a heated debate on Purohit's intentions, but has helped once again underscore the critical role of consent in any relationship, professional or personal.
Lakshmi said in her tweet that she had asked Governor Purohit a question at a press conference. Instead of replying, he patted her on the cheek without her consent. "I asked TN Governor Banwarilal Purohit a question as his press conference was ending. He decided to patronisingly - and without consent - pat me on the cheek as a reply," read her tweet.
I asked TN Governor Banwarilal Purohit a question as his press conference was ending. He decided to patronisingly - and without consent - pat me on the cheek as a reply. @TheWeekLive pic.twitter.com/i1jdd7jEU8
— Lakshmi Subramanian (@lakhinathan) April 17, 2018
"Washed my face several times. Still not able to get rid of it. So agitated and angered Mr Governor Banwarilal Purohit. It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me you are wrong," said Lakshmi in another tweet.
Washed my face several times. Still not able to get rid of it. So agitated and angered Mr Governor Banwarilal Purohit. It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me you are wrong.
— Lakshmi Subramanian (@lakhinathan) April 17, 2018
This post has gone viral, with about 1600 likes and 1900 tweets, and hundreds of replies locked in argument with each other.
Some claimed the touch was a 'good touch' and argued that Purohit is like a father figure to the journalist.
he s like father figure.his entire career speaks volumes abt his straightforwardness and not an iota of suspecian.
— Annakkavur Kesavan (@AnnakkavurKesav) April 17, 2018
No doubt could have been avoided. No women is an object and her self respect is a birth right. Having said that my 1st impression is, this looks an innocuous tap of an old man, similar to the one by elders at home when they r unable 2 provide suitable reply 2 a younger one.
— arul gnana prakash (@arulgprakash) April 17, 2018
Lot of difference between good touch and bad touch. If she feels it's bad touch she can object it in spot itself
— Om Saravanan (@saravanan2111) April 17, 2018
It was nothing more than a grandfatherly pat. If Governor's intentions had been different, he would not have been so public about it. So don't see motives where there are none. @lalitha_jr @rkmuthwho @Vaniraman20
— Agathian (@kapalisvara) April 17, 2018
Others would have none of this, and pointed out that father figure or not, consent is consent, and pointed out that the meeting was a professional one between the holder of a Constitutional position and journalists.
stop the crap!! He is no one to her!!
— C (@chriscussions) April 17, 2018
What crap? He can be a father figure without touching her.
— Deviprasad (@deviprasadv) April 17, 2018
This is not a hone or family.
He invited for a press meet.
He should be prepared to face the Press.
One can't escape by citing old age ..
— Elango Subramaniam (@ElangoCMTN2021) April 17, 2018
Without her permission he touched wr evr it b.. u ppl r not talking abt it.. want to hold up governor its really shame
— CSK ???????? (@luckylosser19) April 17, 2018
Had he ever done that to a male reporter till now? If the answer is no, then this act is something fishy. The whole purpose of this press conference is questionable in the end. #Nirmaladevi #Banwarilal
— Dexter (@ajithpkc) April 17, 2018
With out consent! File an FIR.
— PV Natarajan (@pvnatarajan) April 17, 2018
DMK Rajya Sabha MP K Kanimozhi too came out against the Governor's gesture and made a point about the violation of personal space. "Even if the intention is above suspicion, a person who holds a public office has to understand that there is a decorum to it and violating a woman journalist's personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being," Kanimozhi tweeted.
Even if the intention is above suspicion, a person who holds a public office has to understand that there is a decorum to it and violating a woman journalist's personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being.
— Kanimozhi (???????) (@KanimozhiDMK) April 17, 2018
A group of Chennai-based journalists have decided to organise a protest near Raj Bhavan in the morning on Tuesday. They have said they would seek an appointment with the Governor to meet him in person and handover a memorandum signed by the journalists demanding an apology.
Ironically, the incident had come at a press conference that Purohit had called the Chennai Raj Bhavan to announce a probe into the alleged 'sex for degrees' scandal at the Madurai Kamaraj University, of which the Tamil Nadu Governor is the de facto Chancellor.