The first session of the Tamil Nadu assembly on Monday witnessed unprecedented scenes, with Governor R.N. Ravi refusing to read his customary address in the assembly prepared by the state government on “factual and moral grounds”. He refused to read the speech saying that he cannot lend his voice to the text which has “numerous passages” with which he convincingly disagrees on moral and factual grounds.
“This address has numerous passages with which I convincingly disagree on factual and moral grounds. Lending my voice to them would constitute constitutional travesty. Hence, with respect to the House, I conclude my address and wish this house a healthy discussion for the good of people. Vaazhga Tamil Nadu and Vaazhga Bharatham. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat, Nandri,” Ravi said. “My repeated request and advice to show due respect to the national anthem and play it at the beginning and end of the address has been ignored. Wish this house a productive and healthy discussion for the good of the people.”
Soon after the governor got up to leave the House, Leader of the House and Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan brought in a resolution requesting Speaker M. Appavu to read the Tamil version of the governor’s address. He also asked the speaker to ensure that the speech is taken into the assembly records. Reading out the Tamil version of the address, Appavu said, “Tamil Nadu government got approval for Governor's customary address. He was here to read the speech prepared by the government. He didn't read his full speech but I don't want to blame him. The governor also said the national anthem should have been played at the beginning. Everyone has opinions. But if we speak everything, it won’t be ethical. The government, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, the ministers and MLAs always treat the governor with respect, as he is in a higher position, irrespective of several difference of opinions.
“You (Ravi) spoke whatever you had in your heart. What we have in our heart is floods and cyclone that affected our state. We didn’t get even a paisa as flood relief. There is PM Cares Fund; it has money which is unaccountable. Can we ask for Rs 50,000 crore from the PM Cares Fund? It would be nice if our governor gets it for us,” the speaker said.
The governor’s actions, Duraimurugan’s resolution and Appavu’s reply reminded everyone of the 2023 incident, when the governor walked out of the assembly in a huff, without reading the customary address. Stalin had then passed a resolution against the governor.
But this time, the government chose to downplay it. Minister Duraimurugan moved a resolution relaxing a rule to include the customary Governor's address in Assembly records. He said the 46-page text in both Tamil and English will figure in the Assembly records, and the resolution was passed by a voice vote.
Interestingly, the government had sent the prepared address to Ravi for his approval. Stalin even chaired a meeting with his officials through video conferencing, when he was in Spain for the investors conference. The discussion was to ensure that the governor’s address did not have any flaws.
But, Ravi chose to approve the address and send it back to the speaker’s office. “If he disagreed with the content, why did he approve it,” said Congress floor leader and Sriperumbudur MLA Selvaperunthagai.