Banwarilal Purohit is an Indian politician and present governor of Tamil Nadu. Also, owner and editor of a popular regional newspaper, he has created a profound career for himself over years.
Recently, during a press conference to announce a probe into the alleged ‘sex for degrees’ scandal at the Madurai Kamaraj University, he patted the check of a senior journalist that landed him in middle of controversy.
Lakshmi Subramanian, a well-known senior reporter of a weekly magazine is the person in question. She tweeted the incident soon after it happened and raised a crucial question about consent. Here’s the 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
Later she added that the feeling of the incident stayed with her even after washing her face several times. This is what she tweeted:
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
The post went viral rapidly while drawing supportive and criticizing reactions from the users. Some claimed that there is a difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. In case the journalist felt it was a ‘bad touch’, she should have protested when it happened. Here’s what they conveyed:
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
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
Look at that lalitha tweets &that’s evident. Agreed no male shouldn’t tap the cheeks but the drama she puts in her nxt tweet that she washed her cheeks numerous times is nothing more than a pure publicity gimmick & she seems a veteran in this. 🤺
— Rk.Muthu (@rkmuthwho) April 17, 2018
Innocuous pat – as a grandfather would do
Cheap journalist instinct
— நொய்யலன் (@noyyalan) April 17, 2018
He didn’t slap you. Merely patted you
— Cheenu (@ksmkkbookscom) April 17, 2018
Others pointed out that despite the difference in touch, there is an aspect called consent. No one, even without malicious intentions, has the right to touch someone without her or his consent. This is how the users reacted:
With out consent! File an FIR.
— PV Natarajan (@pvnatarajan) 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
Many fail to understand @lakhinathan ‘s point here.
She is not at some family function here
She has come to work & not for getting touched without consent.
Intentions of governor are irrelevant here.
Toxic masculinity & casual sexism at display.https://t.co/c6Ma8QyDGK
— Periyar (@ModernPeriyar) April 17, 2018
she says very clearly that it was ‘without consent’. So father figure is not an excuse.
— Rev Sunil Raj Philip (@RevsunilRaj) April 17, 2018
What crap? He can be a father figure without touching her.
— Deviprasad (@deviprasadv) April 17, 2018
Unprofessional, to say the least
— Kota Neelima (@KotaNeelima) April 17, 2018
The journalist also gained support from DMK Rajya Sabha MP K. Kanimozhi. She 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 (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) April 17, 2018
Lakshmi Subramanian demanded a formal apology from the Governor. The government finally spoke on the matter with a formal apology letter. The letter was tweeted by her. It read:
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
However, Tweeple weren’t happy with the caption she used, hence slammed her saying that she is blowing the situation out of proportion. Here are some of the tweets:
If you are not still convinced file sexual harassment case in work place if you dare. Don’t get into cheap politics. Still journo are respected for their dedicated services.
— Dr.VARADARAJAN (@tkv_varsh) April 18, 2018
If you feel this much strong about the incident till now – after the apology that is, quizzes me why you didn’t have the nerve to ask him there itself, what stopped you? It would have taken seconds to show that you disapproved his actions and sent across the message much clearly
— Ahdev (@Ahdev7) April 18, 2018
Fake journos trying to create controversy out of nothing. No matter their credibility is zero
— kalyan (@Kulkarnikk) April 18, 2018
Even after a public apology from governor your posture is clear indicator of your probable malafide intentions to malign him
— S.Ranganathan (@rangats) April 18, 2018
I feel reply to the letter of apology from Governor so clearly worded for content & intention shud not have been posted on SM especially he requested for ack through email.
It certainly is not for seeking publicity? Shud every physical touch be treated as offensive or insulting?
— Bhola Nath (@BholaNath_BSF) April 18, 2018
So you think it is OK to share a letter from the Governor addressed to you on a public forum… Did you get his prior permission? Hmm? At least have the courtesy to respond to him likewise. You are just sad that the drama couldn’t extend beyond what it did?
— Who am I? (@Achupichu_ambi) April 18, 2018
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