Times of India said the ‘real substantive issue is the governor sitting on bills’.
The tensions between governor and government took a turn this week when Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi walked out of the state assembly on January 9. Ravi had omitted portions of a government-approved speech, Stalin moved a resolution against it, and chaos broke out.
Among other things, Ravi chose to call the state Tamizhagam instead of Tamil Nadu, skipped mentions of the Dravidian model of “good governance”, and skipped references to Ambedkar, Periyar, Annadurai and Kamaraj.
Adding to the controversy was that Ravi – who is the first governor to skip portions of an address – walked out before the national anthem was played.
But this is just another chapter in the series of squabbles between Ravi and the DMK-led government in Tamil Nadu. Even in his Pongal invitations sent out this morning, he referred to the state as Tamizhagam and did not use the state government’s logo.
Editorials, while differing in tone, criticised Ravi for “overreach”.
Times of India said the assembly walkout was in the “realm of theatrics”, the “real substantive issue is the governor sitting on bills passed by the legislature”.
“The governor usurping the agency of the legislature and council of ministers and playing judge is simply not on,” the editorial said. “The breakdown of the governor-cabinet relationship in many opposition-ruled states is unfortunate...Ravi, as ex-police and IB, must show more administrative wisdom.”
The Hindu, in an editorial headlined “Bad and ugly”, said Ravi’s “baiting of the DMK regime” unfortunately was “carried into the legislature, of which he is an integral part”, and that “constitutional convention” is for presidents and governors not to deviate from approved text.
“The events highlight the consequences of a confrontationist attitude on the part of constitutional functionaries,” the Hindu said. “Future confrontations can be avoided if the Governor gives up his penchant for making politically loaded remarks and is heedful of the State’s political sensibilities. In the longer term, the role of the Governor in the country’s constitutional scheme needs a thorough overhaul...”
On Ravi’s speech, the New Indian Express pointed out that as “someone who always raised concerns about TN’s law-and-order situation, he chose to omit a line that glorified the state as a haven of peace”.
But what is the role of a governor, the editorial asked. “The fact is that a governor’s discretionary powers are scattered in the Constitution and are not codified...A Governor’s duty is defined by constitutionality and the oath of office.”
Finally, the Indian Express deemed Ravi’s conduct “unseemly” and said his omissions in the speech “casts unflattering light on his high office”.
“Tamil subnationalism is at peace with Indian nationalism today. Ravi’s expression of discomfort with the ideological roots of the Dravidian Movement clearly went beyond the remit of his office,” the editorial said. “Unfortunately, his overreach seems to be part of a pattern featuring BJP-appointed governors across states...”
Tamil Nadu isn’t the only state at loggerheads with its governor. In Kerala, governor Arif Mohammad Khan refused to address a press conference in November until certain news channels left his presence. Read about it here.
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