Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Asim Azmi on Monday demanded the arrest of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray over the assault on him inside the Maharashtra assembly by MNS lawmakers.
"I have not done anything wrong by taking the oath as MLA in Hindi, it is our national language. I have respected my national language," Azmi, the Samajwadi Party state chief, told reporters after the incident.
Azmi said that since MNS members had insulted the dignity of the house and shown disrespect to the national language, Thackeray should be arrested immediately. "I cannot tolerate any insult to our national language," he asserted.
Hinting at double standards, Azmi pointed out that MNS legislators did not protest when a Congress member, Baba Siddiqui, took the oath in English.
Azmi was pushed around and slapped by MNS members Ram Kadam and Ramesh Banjle in the house for defying Thackeray's appeal to legislators to take the oath only in Marathi.
When several senior members, including ministers Rajendra Darda and Ajit Pawar and PWP leader Meenakshi Patil, rushed to help Azmi, they were also pushed around by the 13-strong belligerent MNS group.
Thackeray had sent out an open letter to all 288 newly-elected legislators urging them to take the oath only in Marathi.
Azmi said he had made it clear that since he was not well-versed in Marathi, he would take the oath in Hindi and that he was in the process of learning the state language.
"In fact, one of my three party colleagues took the oath in Marathi, I took it in Hindi, so what was the need for creating such a ruckus in the house?" he demanded.
Azmi has submitted a complaint to protem Speaker Ganpatrao Deshmukh and other legislature officials demanding strict action against the MNS members.
Speaking to mediapersons later, Siddiqui, defending his decision to take the oath in English, said the MNS did not object to it since Thackeray's sons study in English-medium schools.
Chef Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal expressed regrets over the incident and vowed to take action against the MNS. The house has suspended four MNS members for four years.