The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday, 9 January, witnessed dramatic and unprecedented scenes after Governor RN Ravi deviated from convention — by omitting certain lines from the speech prepared by the DMK government — while delivering the customary address in the House.
In his speech, the governor omitted lines about Tamil Nadu being a “peace haven”, portions that talked about the maintenance of law and order by the state government, and a paragraph that talked about the DMK government following the ideals of stalwarts like Periyar, BR Ambedkar, K Kamaraj, CN Annadurai and M Karunanidhi to deliver the “Dravidian model” of governance to the people of the state.
Immediately after the Governor’s address, Chief Minister MK Stalin moved a resolution asking the Speaker to take on record only the printed text of the Governor’s address which was approved and tabled in the Assembly and not the spoken address.
“It is disappointing that the Governor has skipped the speech printed and approved by the House. What he has done is against the policy of the government and assembly rules,” the chief minister said while moving the resolution rejecting the spoken speech of the Governor.
Miffed by the resolution, Ravi walked out of the Assembly in a huff even before the national anthem was played.
DMK leader and state minister Thangam Thennarasu subsequently told reporters that the draft of the speech prepared by the government was approved by the Governor on Saturday.
The government also released a document to prove this approval of the speech whose delivery would mark the commencement of the year’s first session of the Assembly.
The minister also said that the Governor had insulted the national anthem by walking out of the Assembly even before it was played.
How can a #Governor be qualified to sit in his constitutional post when he DISRESPECTS THE #NationalAnthem!The way he walked away before the traditional salute to the ANTHEM that we hold dearly MUST NOT GO Unpunished! Am sure the Hon'ble @PMOIndia will view this as unpardonable🙏🏾 https://t.co/Qun4gBeCxa
— Dr. T R B Rajaa (@TRBRajaa) January 9, 2023
Portions skipped by Governor
The speech prepared by the DMK government had 67 points and paragraphs. It talked about the government’s achievements in the previous year and plans for the new year.
However, while delivering the address, Ravi omitted certain portions.
For instance, the 65th point in the prepared speech read: “This government is founded on the ideals of social justice, self-respect, inclusive growth, equality, women empowerment, secularism and compassion towards all. Following the principles and ideals of stalwarts like Thanthai Periyar, Annal Ambedkar, Perunthalaivar Kamarajar, Perarignar Anna and Muthamizh Arignar Kalaignar, this Government has been delivering the much-acclaimed Dravidian model of governance to its people.”
This paragraph was completely omitted by the Governor.
Likewise, the 64th paragraph read: “Because of stellar management of law and order, Tamil Nadu continues to be a haven of peace. As a result, the State is attracting numerous foreign investments and is becoming a forerunner in all sectors.”
This paragraph was also not read out by Ravi.
Similarly, from the 12th paragraph, the Governor chose not to deliver the lines: “ This Government accords highest priority to the maintenance of law and order in the state and is taking all necessary measures to ensure that the state continues to be a haven of peace and tranquillity, free from any form of violence.”
Leaders belonging to alliance parties of the DMK also slammed the Governor for his latest controversial actions.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram took to Twitter and said that Ravi must be recalled as the Governor as his position in Tamil Nadu was “untenable”.
— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) January 9, 2023
Echoing similar views, CPI general secretary D Raja termed the scenes that played out in the Assembly as “unfortunate” and “illegal”.
“TN Governor RN Ravi skipped parts of the address prepared by the state govt with references made to secularism, Periyar, BR Ambedkar, K Kamaraj, CN Annadurai & Karunanidhi and added paras on his own…Office of Governor is only proving to be a burden on our federal polity. It must be abolished to put an end to interference by the Union in the working of elected state govts [sic],” he said.
Incident of making arbitrary changes in the ceremonial address took place in Kerala assembly before.
Office of Governor is only proving to be a burden on our federal polity. It must be abolished to put an end to interference by the Union in the working of elected state govts.
— D. Raja (@ComradeDRaja) January 9, 2023
Protest by DMK allies
Even before the controversy over the Governor skipping lines from the prepared speech broke out, MLAs belonging to allies of the ruling DMK shouted slogans against him and boycotted his address when he began.
As soon as Ravi began his address in Tamil, greeting members on the New Year and the harvest festival Pongal, legislators raised slogans including “Tamil Nadu Vazhgave” (Long live Tamil Nadu) and “Engal Nadu Tamil Nadu” (Our land is Tamil Nadu).
The protest was over the recent controversial remarks made by the Governor who reportedly suggested that “Tamizhagam” would be a more appropriate name for the state than “Tamil Nadu”. He also purportedly went on to call the politics in the state “regressive”.
It may be noted that the DMK government and Governor RN Ravi have been engaged in a bitter political tussle over the last several months.
Apart from the Governor openly making statements against the policy decisions of the government, at least 21 bills, including the bill prohibiting online gambling and regulating online games, passed by the assembly are pending with the Raj Bhavan for approval.