The kindest of hashtags that trended was #GoBackRavi though he received some support from some quarters
Tamil Nadu governor Ravindra Narayana Ravi leaving the packed Assembly Hall in a huff even as chief minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin was addressing the House on Monday was a shocking visual that an entire nation watched with trepidation. It was a moment that not just brought the ongoing acrimonious rift between the governor and the state government in the open but focused the klieg lights on the Centre-state relationship that has seemingly gone awry. Even as naysayers from both sides, who have instantly turned busy as bumble bees, spewed opinions to justify the roles of both the governor and government in the unseemly drama, it was democracy that was caught in the crossfire.
While many blamed it squarely on the governor who deliberately skipped passages, phrases and words in the address prepared for him to read out to the Assembly as it met for the first time in the New Year, the opposing camp cited a convention that when the governor was in the House nobody else should speak. Yet squeals had begun emanating even as the governor rose to deliver his address. MLAs owing allegiance to allies of the ruling DMK heckled him, raising slogans against his past acts of omission and commission. Since Mr Ravi had stirred a hornet’s nest, offending the collective sensibilities of the people of Tamil Nadu, by stating that the state should be referred to as Tamizhagam and not Tamil Nadu, it came handy for those protesting MLAs.
Then there was this long-time complaint of the governor keeping in cold storage a score of legislations passed by the same House, in which he was delivering the address on Monday, without dispatching them to New Delhi as he is expected to do precisely. So the MLAs had that axe to grind, too. The PMK, which is not an ally of the DMK but part of the BJP-led NDA, was particularly sour that a legislation banning online gambling that had been causing too many deaths by suicide in the state was also part of the bunch lying with the governor for too long. So those MLAs too joined the protesting brigade that without persisting much left the hallowed precincts soon.
All hell broke loose only when ruling party mandarins realised that the governor was not reading out the full text given to him and was interpolating it with his views. A resolution was drafted expeditiously to ensure that none of what the governor said entered the House records and only the speech prepared by the government was taken into consideration. The governor, who was initially clueless as to what the chief minister was reading out, left when he figured out, with assistance from aide-de-camp, that it was a resolution against him, thus opening a Pandora’s Box.
Critics went to town flaying the intemperate governor for insulting the Assembly and disrespecting the people who had elected its members. Wall paintings and posters with inimical words came up against him. The kindest of hashtags that trended was #GoBackRavi though he received some support from some quarters. But not many openly pointed out that the drama was a fallout of a Union government gameplan to pit hostile governors against elected non-BJP state governments, which in fact is the real threat to democracy.