New April, April 18: Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday apologised to a senior woman journalist after he set off a firestorm by patting her cheek at a press conference at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday.
Calling Purohit’s behaviour “unprofessional”, the journalist had on Twitter said, it was “completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without her consent, especially a woman”. She had also sent an email to the Governor voicing her discomfort.
Responding to her mail, the Governor issued an apology to her saying that he had patted her cheek considering her to be his “granddaughter”. In the letter, 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.”
Reacting to the apology, the journalist said she accepted the apology but stated that she was not convinced by his explanation. “I accept your apology, even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked,” she wrote on Twitter.
The incident took place when the 78-year-old Governor was about to leave the venue of the crowded press conference at the Raj Bhavan which was held on Tuesday evening to clear his name from a controversy surrounding a professor arrested in the ‘sex for degrees’ case. However, the Governor walked into another row when he patted the cheek of a woman journalist.
The journalist earlier 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.
“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,” the journalist said in another tweet.
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
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.