The face-off between the ruling DMK and the Raj Bhavan in Tamil Nadu hit a new low on Monday with the government accusing Governor R.N. Ravi of skipping a few references during his address to the state Assembly, prompting Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to move a motion to reject the deviations, while Ravi staged perhaps an unprecedented walkout.
The high drama on the floor of the House soon snowballed into a heated debate online between the supporters and critics of the ruling DMK, even as "#GetOutRavi" was trending on Twitter, with many calling for the ouster of Ravi from the gubernatorial post.
However, the state BJP threw its weight behind Ravi, describing "disrespectful and amateurish" Stalin moving a resolution against the Governor whilst Ravi was still seated in the House.
The DMK-dominated House had convened for the first session of the year with the Governor's customary address to the members, which the main opposition AIADMK dubbed as a "disappointment," and said it was "indecent" on the part of the CM to have "spoken" when the Governor was seated, alluding to the resolution moved by Stalin.
Earlier, Ravi began his address amid slogan shouting against him by MLAs belonging to allies of the ruling DMK.
As soon as he 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 slogans later ceased.
Ravi made a reference to Swami Vivekananda, much to the indignance of the treasury benches, skipping certain portions from his customary speech.
He omitted the names of Dravidian stalwarts including the late E.V. Ramasamy 'Periyar' and C.N. Annadurai.
From the commencement of his speech, the Governor encountered opposition from the DMK's allies, which attempted to disrupt his speech by rushing to the well of the House and raising slogans against him. But, an unruffled Ravi continued his speech, sticking to major portions of the text on the initiatives of the State government, especially the "Illam Thedi Kalvi" and "Makkalai thedi maruthuvam," in the Education and Health sectors.
He skipped the 65th point of the speech which says the government is founded on the ideals of social justice, self-respect, inclusive growth, equality, women empowerment, secularism and compassion towards all. 'Dravidian model' were among the words skipped by the Governor and he also spoke on his own on certain aspects.
"Following the principles and ideals of stalwarts like Thanthai Periyar (E.V. Ramasamy), Annal Ambedkar, Perunthalaivar Kamarajar (K. Kamaraj), Perarignar Anna (C.N. Annadurai) and Muthamizh Arignar Kalaignar (M. Karunanidhi), the government has been delivering the much-acclaimed Dravidian model of governance to its people," the text containing 67 points in all, had read.
Also, he omitted portions of the 12th point which talks about the State taking all necessary measures to ensure that it continues to be a haven of peace and tranquility, free from any form of violence.
Ravi concluded his speech by uttering "Vazhiya Senthamizh! Vazhga Natramizhar! and Vazhiya Bharatha Mani Thiru Nadu!"
After the Governor's speech was read out in Tamil by Speaker M. Appavu, the Chief Minister stood up and moved a resolution against Ravi seeking to reject the deviation that he made and to declare as valid only the prepared text of the Governor's address tabled in the House. Before Stalin could conclude his remarks, Ravi got up and walked out of the House, before the national anthem was played to signify the conclusion of the day's proceedings.
Speaker Appavu expressed regret that the Governor had skipped the names of iconic leaders.
Later, reacting to the developments in the Assembly, Industries Minister Thangam Thenarasu said Ravi had deviated from the customary tradition of the House. "His speech was prepared by the government and sent to him for approval. We consider it as an insult to the national anthem as he walked out even before it was played," he alleged.
Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami claimed the Chief Minister piloting a resolution against the Governor went against tradition. “It did not have announcements on any major government projects and therefore was a disappointment,” he told reporters.
The BJP came out in support of the Governor and lashed out at the ruling DMK and Speaker M. Appavu.
BJP state president K. Annamalai charged that DMK and its alliance partners acted like "fringe elements" on Monday.
"For petty political gains, the @arivalayam govt brought shame to the House by disrupting the speech of the Honourable Governor, Thiru R.N. Ravi avargal. Thiru Appavu, the speaker of the house, did not maintain neutrality," he alleged.
Intervening in the Governor's address with a motion when he was still in the assembly is "disrespectful and amateurish," Annamalai said in a series of tweets.
"DMK, in the past, glorified the role of the Governor if the Raj Bhavan remained a mute spectator and couldn't digest our Honourable Governor Thiru. R.N. Ravi performing his constitutional responsibility as one should!", he added.
Many DMK workers, its supporters and its alliance parties lauded Stalin for his resolution and trended on Twitter, the hashtag "GetoutRavi."
Dr S Ramadoss said, "Tamil Nadu has never seen a Governor who has no respect for House traditions and decency."
AMMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran regretted the day's developments and said it was a "black day" in the history of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The governor, and the ruling DMK and its allies have sparred over a number of issues including his reluctance to approve the TN Assembly bill seeking NEET exemption for the state.