Kalimuthu turns down plea on Tamil version

CHENNAI JAN. 28. Opposition members, led by the DMK, today walked out of the Assembly following a refusal by the Speaker, K. Kalimuthu, to guarantee that the Governor's address would be read out in Tamil too from next year.

All that he would assure the agitated members was that the Tamil address would enter the records of the proceedings, with the Chair stating the Tamil version should be taken as read.

When DMK MLAs again raised the issue on returning to the House, the Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa, said she would give an assurance on the Tamil reading if they agreed to not boycott the Assembly during the Governor's address. However, none of the DMK men responded to her suggestion.

When L. Santhanam (Forward Bloc), an ally of the AIADMK, too wanted the Government to revive the practice of a Tamil rendering of the address, Ms. Jayalalithaa said she could only promise that it would think about the issue. There was nothing in the Constitution or the Legislative Assembly rules which made the reading of a Tamil version of the address mandatory. Indeed, in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the address was only in English.

The DMK members, she said, wanted a reason to walk out. People would not be deceived by remarks that the Government did not give Tamil its due because the Tamil version of the address was not read out.

`MGR convention flouted'

Earlier, the DMK deputy leader, Durai Murugan, who was the first to raise issue, said the AIADMK Government had flouted a convention set by the party founder, M.G. Ramachandran, who introduced the practice when he became Chief Minister in 1977.

The DMK followed the convention. S.R. Balasubramaniam (Congress) said the Speaker could at least have stated the Tamil version of the address should be taken as read. Mr. Kalimuthu then said from henceforth, the Chair would state the Tamil version should be taken as read.

`No breach of privilege'

Explaining the decision not to have the Tamil version read out, he said the version in the official language of the State had been circulated to the MLAs. There was no breach of privilege of the members, as a result of the Tamil version not having been read out. However, when the Leader of the Opposition, K. Anbazhagan, wanted the Speaker to give an assurance that the Tamil version would be read out from the next year, Mr. Kalimuthu did not oblige. Following this, the Opposition members staged a walkout, shouting slogans.

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