Tamil Nadu Governor storms out of House amidst speech row

The Asian Age.  | G Babu Jayakumar & D Sekar

India, Politics

As the governor rose to deliver his address, members of few political parties aligned to the ruling DMK started a ruckus inside the House

MLAs belonging to the allies of the ruling government raise slogans against Tamil Nadu Governor R. N. Ravi before staging a walkout during his address at the first session of the year of Tamil Nadu Assembly, at Fort St George, in Chennai. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi stormed out of the state Assembly midway through the proceedings after triggering a controversy by refusing to read some lines from the customary governor’s address prepared by the state government and also raising several constitutional questions through his behaviour on Monday, the opening day of the current session in the New Year.
Even as the governor rose to deliver his address, members of some political parties aligned to the ruling DMK started a ruckus inside the House, expressing their anger against Ravi holding back 20 legislations passed by the Assembly and for making a statement that the state should be called "Tamilagam" and not Tamil Nadu, among other issues.

An NDA member, PMK, too, joined them in the protest and even held out a banner on the floor of the House with slogans protesting the holding back of the Bill banning online rummy in the state.

As the governor went ahead with his address, unmindful of the kerfuffle, the protesting MLAs left the House and boycotted the address after some time. However, since the governor did not follow the entire address prepared by the government, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin moved a resolution to include in the official records the lines that were left out and to delete the extra things that Ravi had added unilaterally.

It was then Ravi walked out of the House without waiting for the proceedings to be over or the national anthem to be played or for the Assembly Speaker to escort him out of the hall as per protocol. Earlier in the day, when the Governor arrived at the premises, he was received by the Speaker.

Among the lines that the governor refused to read out from the text was: "Following the principles and ideals of Thanthai Periyar, Annal Ambedkar, Perunthalaivar Kamarajar, Perarignar Anna and Muthamil Arignar Kalaignar the government has been delivering the much acclaimed Dravidian Model of governance."

Another passage that was left out was: "Because of the stellar management of law and order, Tamil Nadu continues to be a haven of peace. As a result, the state was attracting numerous foreign investments and is becoming a forerunner in all sectors."

The governor also skipped: "This government is founded on the ideals of social justice, self-respect, inclusive growth, equality, women’s empowerment, secularism and compassion towards all."

Moving the resolution, Stalin said it was regrettable that the governor did not read out the address completely and properly. He also said that those passages added unilaterally would be removed from the Assembly records.
He said that though the governor had been acting against the principles of the Dravidian Model, which was highly unacceptable to the government, the ruling party did not express its protest when he came to the House as the members wanted to maintain the dignity of the House and also follow the rules and regulations, but he did not reciprocate it.

Reacting to the development, BJP state vice-president V.P. Duraisamy said the governor was not bound to read the entire speech prepared by the state government. Duraiswamy, who was the deputy speaker of Assembly in the DMK government, said that Ravi had read out the policies of the government and that was enough.

He also said that the Speaker was not empowered to expunge the governor’s speech as he was not a member of the House.

State industries minister Thangam Thennarasu, who spoke to the media, said that the draft governor’s address was sent to Raj Bhavan. He regretted the governor’s attitude to even mention the name of Ambedkar in the speech.
Members of the AIADMK, led by the Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami also walked out of the House with the governor. Palaniswami said that they had come to the Assembly to listen to the governor and not the chief minister.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss, reacting to the incident, said that it was not proper on the part of the governor to have behaved that way. PMK president Anbumani Ramadoss said that it was an insult to the Assembly and elected state government and will in no way add strength to democracy.

CPI member Nagai Maali accused the governor of working for the BJP and RSS to implement the Union government’s agenda against the state government with no understanding of Tamil sentiments and functioning against the people’s welfare.

Urging the Union government to call back Ravi, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi member M.H. Jawahirullah accused the governor of acting like a political agent by not sanctioning approval for 20 Bills passed in the House, which has 234 members.

Other leaders like TNCC president K.S. Alagiri, leader of the Congress in the Assembly Selvaperunthagai and CPI secretary K. Balakrishnan were among those who spoke against the governor, saying that it was anti-democratic, while the BJP state president and MLA Vanathi Srinivasan accused the government of enacting a drama.