Uproar after TN governor pats senior journalist on cheek

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, who found himself amidst controversy after patting a senior journalist on her cheek without her consent at a press conference at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday, apologised on Wednesday.

The apology came following a demand by journalists in the state after Lakshmi Subramanian tweeted a picture in which the governor is seen patting her cheek and expressed her shock at his behaviour.

In a letter to Subramanian, the governor wrote, “…I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter. It was done with affection and to express my appreciation for your performance as a journalist since I was also a member of that profession for about 40 years.”

Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai the previous day.

I accept your apology, even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked @TheWeekLive pic.twitter.com/JhjPOQy8UW

— Lakshmi Subramanian (@lakhinathan) April 18, 2018

The incident occurred after a press conference had just concluded when the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, who works with the Week, asked the governor a question at the venue of the crowded press conference, when it had almost ended.

The upset journalist tweeted an open letter about what happened.

“Governor Banwarilal Purohit, I am angered and agitated. You didn’t answer my questions, but you decided to patronisingly, and without my consent, pat on my cheek as a reply.

To you, it might be a mark of appreciation, and a “grandfatherly” gesture, as you replied to several questions during the hour-long press conference on sexual allegations against you. But to me, it was an uninvited gesture as I wanted only answers and not a pat on my cheek.

“He didn’t hear me at all. Instead, he patted on my left cheek and got away. It was a crowded press conference, and I was transfixed for a moment by that gesture,” she wrote in her open letter.

Calling it unprofessional behavior, the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, said it was completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without 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. @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.

— Lakshmi Subramanian (@lakhinathan) April 17, 2018

Tamil Nadu’s opposition party, the DMK, said the incident was “unbecoming” of a person holding a Constitutional post. DMK Rajya Sabha MP 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.”

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 (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) April 17, 2018

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