TN Governor RN Ravi courts controversy again: Here's why he boycotted his Assembly address after four-minutes speech!

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has courted a fresh controversy in the state Assembly again on Monday - February 12 during the commencement of the assembly session for the year of 2024. The Governor, who has a disputable relation with the DMK-led state government, has allegedly defied the Assembly protocol for the second year in a row by boycotting his assembly address with a peculiar claim. 

On Monday, the Tamil Nadu Assembly has convened for a budgetary session with a scheduled opening and customary address from Governor RN Ravi. Under a closer watch, the Governor has arrived to the Assembly only to present a huge shock to Chief Minister MK Stalin and to the legislators. Governor Ravi was accorded with a ceremonial welcome and started his address at around 10 am. 

When it was expected that the Governor would speak about the welfare schemes and achievements of the Tamil Nadu government, he concluded his speech in just four minutes. He hasn't touched upon the address given to him by the state government and boycotted his speech by accusing the government of ignoring his request of playing the National Anthem at the beginning of his address. 

Notably, a government event in Tamil Nadu would begin with Tamil Thai Vazhthu (state anthem) and would end with National Anthem. It has been in practice for several decades and was followed whenever the Assembly session was convened in the state. Governor Ravi's demand was first-of-its-kind that came from the State Assembly and by claiming that it was ignored, he refused to continue his address. 

The Governor has also alleged that the address has matters with which he disagree on factual and moral grounds. In what has become a unique precedent of a boycott on the grounds that the National Anthem wasn't played at the beginning of the address, Governor RN Ravi said, "My repeated request & advice to show due respect to the national anthem and play it at the beginning & end of the address has been ignored. This address has numerous passages with which I convincingly disagree on factual and moral grounds."

"Lending my voice to them would constitute a constitutional travesty. Hence, with respect to the house, I conclude my address. Wish this house a productive and healthy discussion for the good of the people", the Governor added. As he refused to address the Assembly, the Tamil version of the Governor's address was read to the Assembly by Speaker Appavu and once Appavu completed his address, the Governor was seen walking out of the Assembly even before the National Anthem was played.

The National Anthem was played in the first day of the first Assembly session in 2024 in the absence of the Governor. In the tenure of Governor RN Ravi, the Tamil Nadu Assembly has been witnessing never-happened-before events as in 2023, he courted a controversy when he abruptly omitted some words and added newer ones that weren't in the prepared speech. 

As per the Constitutional and Assembly protocol of every state, the Governor must deliver the speech from the address that was prepared by the state government and he can't remove or add more words than what was presented to him. Governor RN Ravi had defied this protocol in 2023 and repeated the same in 2024. 

Revisiting what happened in the Assembly in 2023 

On January 9, 2023, Governor RN Ravi, during his inaugural speech in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, had omitted words such an women empowerment, secularism, self-respect, compassion and portions on BR Ambedkar and Dravidian leaders from the speech submitted by the state government. He went on to add some new words and following his controversial conduct, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had in the Assembly moved a resolution requesting that the Speaker only to record the speech prepared by the state government and not to record any words and passages the Governor had inserted or omitted.

The Assembly has passed that resolution that only the Governor's original speech would be recorded. Astonished by the move, Governor RN Ravi had walked off from the Assembly when the Chief Minister was speaking on the resolution. As he walked off before the National Anthem, the legislators of the DMK alliance raised slogans against the Governor and that moment has sparked a fresh conflict between the state government and the Governor. 

By boycotting his address in the Assembly on Monday - February 12 and leaving the house before the National Anthem was played, Governor Ravi has fueled that conflict with the MK Stalin administration at a high time when the Governors of the non-BJP ruling states are accused of turning down the protocols of the Legislative Assembly. It is pertinent to note that recently, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had skipped his Assembly address and his speech had lasted just for two minutes.