When the fifteenth Governor of Tamil Nadu, Ravindra Narayana Ravi, skipped portions of the address given to him by the State Government on the first day of the commencement of legislative assembly in 2023 (9 January), he was not doing anything new or novel.
This has precedence right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Even in recent years, the then Governor of Kerala and retired Supreme Court judge Sadasivam had skipped portions of the text given to him by Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government in Kerala.
What was shameful was the way members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) of the ruling party and its alliance conducted themselves. They repeatedly shouted slogans asking the Governor to get out and hailing ‘Tamil Nadu’ as 'their' land.
According to veteran journalist Kolakala Srinivas, the prepared speech had portions which the Governor objected to even when it was first sent to him. Srinivas stated that as per the inputs from Governor’s office, when the objections of the Governor were conveyed to the chief minister, the response received was that since the printed copies had already been sent, the Governor could skip the portions he considered objectionable.
There is, according to Srinivas, a complete documentary trial for this entire interaction. So the ruling dispensation knew first hand that some portions would be skipped and they had agreed that it was the prerogative of the Governor to do so.
In fact, they themselves seem to have suggested that the Governor skip the portions he found objectionable.
Yet, when the Honourable Governor actually did that, the ruling party indulged in a behaviour that touched another low in the history of Tamil Nadu legislative assembly.
Another low, because the assembly of the state has not made itself quite proud in the past decades.
It was within its premises that late Selvi Jayalalithaa was humiliated and almost physically abused by the-then ruling DMK party members. She came out completely shaken and humiliated. That was the lowest point any state assembly had touched in independent India.
Now the same ruling dispensation has set another low and this time with respect to the Governor of Tamil Nadu. With a minister seen gesticulating at the Governor, it is indeed seriously unacceptable behaviour for any legislative assembly in India.
The reason for this tragedy lies perhaps in the fact that the Honourable Governor has repeatedly insisted on the real nature of culture and spirituality in Tamil land. Without mincing words he has pointed out that it is Sanatana Dharma. He has pointed out the fact that the Thirukural belongs to the universe of Sanatana Dharma.
This is nothing new. While the acolytes of Dravidianism and colonialism have tried to negatively stereotype Sanatana Dharma through the colonial lenses of distortion, Governor Ravi is on a strong civilizational wicket.
From Mahabharata and Buddha to Maharishi Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest sons and daughters of India have emphasized Sanatana Dharma as the basis of the national culture and spiritual values of India.
Further, the TN Governor has given clear indication that he would not be a silent spectator to DMK government allowing the state to become a terror-hub. Here it should be remembered that there have been a lot of accusations against the DMK Government under late M.Karunanidhi that was its soft approach towards radical Islamist elements which led to the 1998 Coimbatore blasts.
The recent bomb blast in Coimbatore that could have been an ISIS-style attack and the way the DMK government subsequently went out of its way to characterise it more as a gas-cylinder explosion shows that even in 2022, the DMK mindset has not changed. Perhaps Dravidian model politics is by nature pro-Islamist radicalism.
And the honourable Governor has shown that such a Dravidian model would not be tolerated and euphemisms of Tamil Nadu being a ‘peaceful park’—while it is being transformed into an active hub of radicalism—would have dire consequences.
All these are major irritants for the ruling dispensation. Hence this unruly behaviour and the incident in the legislative assembly.
At the same time, at the other end of the political spectrum, there has been an increased demand of the use of article 356 and imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a frequent hopper of political alignments, who is now in BJP, has demanded that Modi Government impose President Rule. It is almost a given now that one should take Dr. Swamy demands with more than a pinch of salt.
Unlike the Congress Government which has frequently used and abused Article 356, the BJP Government has used the section judiciously and rarely. While the insult to a Constitutional Office of high regard and respect by the DMK and aligned party MLAs is indeed a serious matter, it is unlikely that Modi or Shah would dismiss the state government.
They are believers in democracy in spirit and form. And all said, the MK Stalin government is a democratically elected government. So it is unlikely that such an affront to democracy would be done by Modi.
Dr. Swamy knows this well and perhaps only wants to show Modi as a weak leader to his rapidly decreasing number of cheerleaders.
While Dr. Swamy holds little value for the the BJP and its ecosystem in Tamil Nadu, Dravidianists may project his demand as the intention of BJP and try to gain some political mileage.
In the final analysis though, the Governor's actions only confirm that the churning has begun for Tamilagam to reemerge as the land of Dharma.
Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.
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