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Meghalaya Governor's Hindi address leaves MLAs protesting in assembly

A Congress MLA staged a walkout, while another legislator threatened to speak in the Khasi language during the debate on the governor's address.

Reported by: PTI, Shillong [ Published on: March 16, 2018 20:58 IST ]
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Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad's address to the state Assembly in Hindi triggered protests among a section of the lawmakers today. 

A Congress MLA staged a walkout, while another legislator threatened to speak in the Khasi language during the debate on the governor's address. 

English is the preferred language in the Meghalaya Assembly and the Garo and Khasi languages, though notified, are used rarely.

 
Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh staged a walkout during the governor's address in protest against the latter speaking in Hindi. There was also a discussion in the House on the issue. 

Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma said it would have been appropriate for the governor, who had assumed office on October 5 last year, to address the House in a language that everyone understood. 

Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) MLA Adelbert Nongrum threatened to speak in Khasi during the debate on the governor's address.
 
"During the debate on the governor's address, I will speak in Khasi. This is not to protest, but I feel it is important that as members of the House, we understand each and every word we say," he said. 

Intervening in the discussion, Speaker Donkupar Roy said, "I request the members to kindly go through the rules, which clearly mention the use of languages." Outside the House, Roy told PTI that there was no bar on debating or participating in a discussion in the notified official languages, provided a copy of the speech was provided in writing to the Assembly. 

He also said a translation of the governor's address was circulated among the members for their benefit. 

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told reporters, "The governor was more comfortable speaking in Hindi, which is not a foreign language. Since he (governor) is more comfortable in Hindi, he spoke in Hindi." 

"It (Hindi) is very much an Indian language and I don't see any reason why there should be an issue when everything is given in the document in English," he said, while admitting that the members preferred that the address was in English. 

Speaking outside the Assembly, Lyngdoh said the governor's address had set a "very unhealthy precedent", adding that she would speak in Khasi while participating in the debate on Prasad's speech in the Assembly. 

A translator should have been arranged for the benefit of the general people of the state, she said, adding, "The oppression of language is the beginning of a huge suppression...This is a bullying approach and I don't appreciate it. 

"His (Prasad's) qualifications say he is well educated. He stubbornly speaks Hindi and I am also stubborn in not listening to anyone speaking in Hindi." 
Another Congress MLA, George Lyngdoh, said he felt "disconnected" as he could not understand the governor's address. 

Terming the use of Hindi in Meghalaya Assembly "unprecedented", he alleged that the RSS-backed BJP was trying to bring the entire country under one language and the ruling National People's Party (NPP) in Meghalaya, which is supported by the saffron party, was doing so in the north-eastern state. 

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