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Meghalaya governor’s Hindi address to House irks opposition

While East Shillong representative Ampareen Lyngdoh walked out of the house, Mawlai MLA Process Sawkmie dubbed the use of Hindi as a “bad precedent”.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2018 22:57 IST
David Laitphlang
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma with governor Ganga Prasad at Raj Bhawan in Shillong.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma with governor Ganga Prasad at Raj Bhawan in Shillong.(PTI File)

The opposition Congress raised a hue and cry after governor Ganga Prasad addressed the Meghalaya assembly in Hindi on the first day of the budget session.

An English translation of the speech provided to the MLAs failed to assuage their feelings. While East Shillong representative Ampareen Lyngdoh walked out of the house, Mawlai MLA Process Sawkmie dubbed the use of Hindi as a “bad precedent”.

“In 46 years of statehood, this is the first time in the history of Meghalaya that the governor has addressed us in Hindi. It seems that the agenda of the big party is to try and impose its one nation-one culture-one language ideology on us,” Sawkmie said in a reference to the BJP.

Prasad is a veteran BJP politician from Bihar.

Chief minister Conrad Sangma brushed aside the objections. “There’s nothing odd about this. The governor is more comfortable speaking in Hindi, which is not a foreign language.”

Lyngdoh, however, would have none of it. “Language is the first root for oppression. This is absolute bullying,” she said, pointing out that Meghalaya was created after an undivided Assam tried to impose Assamese across the state.

“If he (Prasad) is stubborn about speaking in Hindi, then I can also be stubborn about not listening to anybody speak in Hindi. So, if we both become stubborn, where will this country go?” asked Lyngdoh, who represents a multicultural constituency.

However, Dr Mukul Sangma – former chief minister and leader of the opposition – struck a more conciliatory tone than his colleagues. He conceded that it was Prasad’s prerogative to speak in Hindi, but said the MLAs would have been pleased if the address was made “in a language everybody could understand”.