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Meghalaya Budget Assembly Session begins on a stormy note: Row over Governor’s speech in Hindi

First Published: 20th March, 2023 14:22 IST

And what ensued during this course was a war of words between Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and VPP MLA Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit.

The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly’s Budget Session began on a stormy note as Governor Phagu Chauhan delivered his opening speech in Hindi.

Voice of People’s Party MLAs Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit and 3 other party MLAs opposed tooth and nail against the Governor’s speech in Hindi, thereby interrupting the Governor’s speech.

And what ensued during this course was a war of words between Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and VPP MLA Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit.

Defending Governor Phagu Chauhan, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma rose from his seat and clearly stated that this was not done purposefully and there were certain limitations.

While, Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit was opposing in a high pitch (on the background), Conrad Sangma said,”Respected Elected Members, the written speech has been circulated to everybody why this issue should be made. If the individual (Governor) has got certain limitations in terms of not being able to speak or read a particular language than we have to allow. The written speech has been circulated. It’s not that the Honourable Governor is only speaking (in Hindi) because he wants to speak. He is able to read Hindi, he is not able to read English, that’s the limitation which is there. He is not doing because he wants to do it. He is doing it because he has limitations in reading in English and not in Hindi.”

Conrad Sangma further expressed his disappointment and said,”It is very very sad to see that a disrespect like this has been done to the Honourable Governor of the House. Therefore, I request the members not to bring out an issue like this. This is not the way.”

This forced Speaker Thomas Sangma to intervene as he urged all the members of the House to maintain the decorum and further allowing the Governor to continue his speech in Hindi. But unhappy with this, the 4 VPP MLAs walked out of the House.

Soon, after staging a walk out VPP President and Nongkrem MLA Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit said the Governor’s speech in Hindi was against the sentiments of the people. Basaiawmoit defending his party’s action said,”We walked out because we dont want to be part of that. We truly represent the voice of the people, that’s what we have to do that. This is against the sentiments of the people. You go ask anyone outside the House, people will not accept this kind of a tradition to be promoted in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.”

VPP President and Nongkrem MLA Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit

“We want that this tradition should be stopped, should not be allowed to continue. We dont want this kind of tradition where the Governor speech will be in Hindi,” Basaiawmoit added.

Well not only the VPP, the Governor’s speech also did not seem to go well with Ampareen Lyngdoh, who is the Health and Family welfare minister in the Conrad Sangma cabinet. Lyngdoh said that she was happy that the issue was highlighted while citing that the people of Meghalaya do not speak Hindi or understand Hindi.

Meghalaya Health and Family Welfare minister Ampareen Lyngdoh

Ampareen Lyngdoh said,”We need to make sure that the Government of India knows that the people of the state of Meghalaya do not understand Hindi. Even we were having some difficulty following the language that was spoken even though the written speech was given to us. So, it is important that we consistently inform and highlight to the Government of India that we are a non-Hindi speaking community.”

“And Government of India should take note that they should send Governors who would prefarably speak the language that is spoken by the people,” Ampareen Lyngdoh further said.

Meghalaya Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh

If that was not all, Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh also did not seem to be contended with the fact that the Governor delivered his speech in Hindi. Reacting on the issue he said, “Ideally speaking though, when you communicate I would have preferred an address in a language that I can thoroughly understand. But for today to compensate for that what I did was, read the Governor’s speech in English. And reading is far better because You can internalise all points of the speech better than listenning to a language which I can really have to understand.”

Former Chief Minister and TMC leader Mukul Sangma also reacted on the Governor’s Hindi speech row and said that the VPP has conveyed it’s sentiments and feels that needs to be acknowledged given the lingusitic, cultural and religious diversity.

Former CM and TMC leader Mukul Sangma

He said,”See the most importat part is to really appreciate to have that whole sense of appreciation, honest appreciation of the huge diversity that this nation has from linguistice perspective, from cultural perspective, religious perspective. That is what is important. Therefore how do we approach things in a manner which is in sync with that whole aspirational aspect of these people from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious background in nation such as ours. That’s why I am saying, how people approach on things, how political parties respond to a given situation that is very important. So therefore it is upto the conscience of the leaders of those respective politcal parties.”

Also Read : Meghalaya gets additional Rs 300 cr from Centre for devp work

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