Trouble is brewing in the state Assembly even before it formally assumes power.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, taking his Marathi agenda a step further, has demanded that all legislators take their oaths only in Marathi.
“If they [the legislators] use any other language, then the assembly will witness what my legislators do,” said Thackeray addressing a press meet on Monday. The MNS has 13 legislators in 288-member Assembly.
Thackeray said he wanted to see the kind of loyalty towards the state language as is displayed in South Indian states. “In Karnataka, a minister was dismissed because he did not know Kannada. I want the same kind of sentiment here in Maharashtra,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray was reacting to a Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Asim Azmi’s letter to the Assembly secretariat last week requesting the agenda of the Assembly proceedings in Hindi. The agenda and other documents are distributed only in Marathi.
Azmi is now determined not to take his oath in Marathi. “With Raj Thackeray making it an issue I will now take the oath either in Hindi or Urdu,” said Azmi. He said that he was following the constitution of India and the state should reign in Thackeray who was showing disrespect to it.
Several non-Marathi legislators said they did not need Thackeray's diktat to take an oath in Marathi.
“I have been taking the oath in Marathi and will do the same again,” said Baba Siddique, a three-time Congress legislator from Bandra. Borivli legislator Gopal Shetty said, “Raj should have requested legislators instead of using such threatening language.”
The MNS has, meanwhile, appointed the aggressive Bala Nandgaonkar as the party’s leader in the Assembly and Nitin Sardesai, as the chief whip.
Senior leader Shishir Shinde’s exclusion was a surprise.