Chennai: Tamil Nadu governor R N Ravi on Monday refused to read out the complete text of the customary address to the state Assembly, claiming it has 'misleading facts', and lambasted the ruling DMK over the national anthem issue, remarks that were 'expunged' in yet another showdown between the Raj Bhavan and the state government.
The expunged remarks were Ravi's 'personal' comments and only the approved text would be in the records, Speaker M Appavu said. The Governor also walked out of the House before the national anthem was played. Ravi reading out from such a text would be a "Constitutional travesty," the Raj Bhavan later said, explaining the sequence of events. This was the Governor's inaugural address for the year to the House.
The national anthem was also at the centre of controversy as Ravi demanded it be played before and after the address while the government maintained it was not in lines with the House tradition and rules. For the second year in a row, the state Assembly witnessed controversy during the Governor's Address. Last year, on January 9, Ravi omitted some portions of the government-prepared address and also included few points on his own before the a resolution was adopted to restore the original draft in the records.
Ravi only read out from the first of the 46-page speech on Monday. The Raj Bhavan charged Appavu with launching a tirade on Ravi and insisted he walked out to uphold the dignity of the office of the Governor. The draft Governor's address was received on February 9 and it had 'numerous passages' with "misleading claims far from truth." Ravi, therefore, returned the file and also advised the government to show due respect to the national anthem by playing it at the beginning and end of the Governor's address.
In this regard, the Governor had written to the Chief Minister and the Speaker in the past as well. The state government, however, 'chose to ignore' his advice, it said in a release. "The Governor's address should reflect government's achievements, policies and programmes and to inform the House of the causes of its summons and should not be a forum for peddling misleading statements and venting blatantly partisan political views."
Though the Speaker read the government prepared Governor's address with which Ravi had disagreement, he "sat through it, till the conclusion of the address." Appavu read the Tamil version of the address. When the Speaker concluded , Ravi stood up for the national anthem, as scheduled.
"However, the Speaker, instead of following the schedule, launched a tirade against the Governor and called him a follower of Nathuram Godse and more. The Speaker with his unbecoming conduct lowered the dignity of his chair and grace of the House. While the Speaker went on his tirade against the Governor, the Governor with due regard to the dignity of his office and the House, left the House."
Ravi, with due regard to the 'Constitutional proprieties' expressed his 'inability' to read the address as it contained numerous passages with 'misleading' claims and facts. "Reading them would have amounted to Governor's address becoming a Constitutional travesty."
Hence, he expressed his respect to the house, wished the session to be productive for the good of people of Tamil Nadu and concluded. He greeted the Speaker, Chief Minister MK Stalin, MLAs and the people of the state, and read out the first paragraph which contained a 'Kural' (couplet from Tamil classic Tirukkural) of the renowned saint Thiruvalluvar, Raj Bhavan added.
Speaker Appavu said Ravi's personal views and also what he had said thereafter were expunged. "Only the printed text will be on the Assembly record." "We have been following the tradition. The printed text was approved by the Governor and we requested him to read it out. He could have chosen not to read or abstained from the House...," he said.
Normally, the national anthem was played when the Speaker, accompanied by the Assembly Secretary, received the Governor with a Guard of Honour, Appavu said. "But inside the House, the customary address commences with the Tamil Thaai Vazhthu (Tamil anthem) and the national anthem is played after the Governor's address, delivered in English, is read out in Tamil by him (Speaker)," he clarified. This was in strict compliance to the Assembly rule 176 (1) for the first sitting of the Assembly.
Soon after Appavu completed making some comments, Ravi quickly walked out even as the former announced that the national anthem would be played after the passage of the resolution on including the customary address. The Governor continued and moved out of the House with officials in attendance.
Leader of the House and Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan moved a resolution relaxing a rule to include the Governor's address in Assembly records. It was passed by a voice vote. Recently, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan too ended his customary address in a couple of minutes and read out only the last paragraph.
The address which Ravi declined to read contained faulted the Centre for terminating the GST compensation regime in June 2022, resulting in a revenue shortfall of approximately Rs 20,000 crore per annum to the state government. Amidst these fiscal constraints, the Centre has reneged on its promise to provide its share in the Chennai Metro Rail Phase-II project sanctioned for Rs 63,246 crore with equity sharing between state and centre, it said.
Leader of Opposition K Palaniswami said what happened today was an issue between the government and the Governor but asserted "there was no problem when we (AIADMK) were there," in the ruling saddle and that things "were fine" then. BJP Legislature Party Leader Nainar Nagendran alleged Appavu 'violated' tradition by speaking on certain issues and wondered how the Governor could stay in the House after that. The Governor later shared a video on 'X,' of his expunged remarks.
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