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In a first, Meghalaya assembly witnesses debate in Khasi

MLAs Ampareen Lyngdoh and Adelbert Nongrum chose to speak in Khasi, in response to governor Ganga Prasad’s address to the house, in Hindi.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2018 12:48 IST

For the first time in 46 years of statehood, the Meghalaya assembly witnessed a debate in a local language, Khasi.

Congress legislator from East Shillong, Ampareen Lyngdoh and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator from North Shillong, Adelbert Nongrum chose to speak in Khasi in response to governor Ganga Prasad’s address to the house, in Hindi.

Speaker Donkupar Roy informed the assembly Lyngdoh and Nongrum had expressed their desire to speak in Khasi, to which he agreed.

However, the two leaders addressed the house in English as well.

Though Khasi and Garo languages were notified as associate official languages in May 2005, all proceedings and government communiqué have been in English.

Lyngdoh said it was a privilege for her to be able to speak in Khasi in the house and it was a step closer to ensuring inclusion of Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Lyngdoh, a former minister, had walked out of the assembly to protest against the governor delivering his inaugural address in Hindi. Following this, both Lyngdoh and Nongrum resolved to also speak in Khasi in the house.

This departure caused members of the treasury to express concern at the developments arising out of the governor’s address in Hindi.

“It is sad on my part to see that we are having differences in the house and this is not healthy. I can see that the brotherhood is moving away from us,” NCP legislator from Gambegre, Saleng A Sangma said even as he too spoke a few words in his native tongue, Garo.

Seeking to arrive at an amicable rapprochement, Hill State People Democratic Party (HSPDP) legislator from Mawkyrwat, Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar urged the members to not be “emotional” just because the governor addressed the house in Hindi.

“The governor was not comfortable speaking in English but let’s not get emotional because it is unfortunate if we are trying to minimise the dignity of the house. Let us communicate in the language we all understand (English),” he said.

Referring to Lyngdoh as someone he would like to learn from, Tongkhar, however, said, “It will be a great loss to the house if she continues to speak in Khasi.”

Soon after the session, chief minister Conrad Sangma said though there is a provision for members to speak in their own mother tongue, it has always been a practice that English is spoken for all the members’ benefit.

“This is something that was not seen before. We have always seen that people who have spoken in English have normally spoken in English and I would prefer that kind of culture to continue,” he told journalists while opining that keeping in mind the tradition of the house, those comfortable speaking in English should continue as it is healthy for the entire working of the house.

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 12:48 IST