Congress attacks Meghalaya Governor for Hindi address

Shillong, March 16 (IANS) Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad, who scripted history by being the first to address the state Assembly in Hindi on Friday, was criticized by Congress members.

Former Urban Affairs Minister and Congress legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh walked out of the House in protest while Prasad was delivering his address in "chaste" Hindi.

Prior to the start of the budget session, Opposition Chief Whip Process T. Sawkmie raised a point of order wanting a clarification from Speaker Donkupar Roy whether the Governor would be speaking in Hindi and if so whether translated version of the speech would be circulated.

Roy replied that copies of the speech in English would be circulated.

But Sawkmie repeatedly stood up to oppose the address saying it has created a bad precedence in the history of Meghalaya.

The Governor read out the speech in Hindi throughout his address while at the same time skipping important paragraphs in the English version of the speech.

After the House was resumed for the day, Sawkmie again raised the issue before the Speaker saying the Governor has created bad precedence (by speaking in Hindi) in the House.

"In 46 years of statehood, this is the first time in the history of Meghalaya that the Governor has addressed us in Hindi. If the Governor has created a bad precedence by speaking in Hindi, members of the House can speak in Khasi, Garo or Jaintia (local dialect) according to their wish because the head of the state fails to respect the floor of the House," he said.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma later told journalists that the Governor's speech in Hindi was not an issue at all as it was not a foreign language as it was spoken across the country.

"The rules have been followed. The rules are there. The contents are already in the printed version along with the details. The reason why he summarized some of the points could be because it was very long. Those are reasons we don't know. The Governor's House and Governor's Secretariat will know better," he said.

"The Governor is comfortable of speaking in Hindi, he can read Hindi better. So he did what he was comfortable with," the Chief Minister added.

Speaker Roy told journalists: "You see the official language here is English but as per the Rule anyone can speak in their mother tongue provided they give the translated version beforehand."

The former Congress Urban Affairs minister said: "Language is the first route for oppression. This is absolutely bullying and this approach I don't appreciate."

Lyngdoh said that when she was minister in the previous government, she had strongly opposed meetings where Hindi was spoken.

"If he (Governor) is stubborn speaking in Hindi, then I am also stubborn not listening to anyone speaking in Hindi. So if we will both be stubborn. Where will this country go?" Lyngdoh asked



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