SHILLONG, Mar 16: Meghalaya Governor, Ganga Prasad delivered his maiden address in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in Hindi much to the discomfort of most of its members who were not familiar with the language.
In the morning soon after the House assembled Assembly Speaker Dr Donkupar Roy informed that the Governor will come and address the House.
Congress legislator from Mawlai, PT Sawkmie immediately stood up and sought clarification if the governor will address in Hindi and whether the translated version will be provided to the members since most of the members do not understand Hindi.
Dr Roy in his reply to Sawkmie’s query said that the English version of the speech was being circulated among the members of the House.
Later, when the Governor was addressing the House, Congress member from East Shillong Ampareen Lyngdoh staged a walk-out as a mark of protest.
When the House resumed after a tea-break, Sawkmie again raised the issue before the Speaker saying that the Governor has created bad precedence (by speaking in Hindi) on the floor of the House.
“In 46 years of statehood, this is the first time in the history of Meghalaya that the Governor has addressed us in Hindi,” the Mawlai legislator said.
Sawkmie also said that if the Governor has created a bad precedence by speaking in Hindi members of the House can speak in Khasi, Garo or Jaintia.
When Sawkmie kept on raising the issue, Dr Roy said, “No need to discuss, we should go ahead with our business.”
Meanwhile, Lyngdoh told media persons that she decided to walk out to register her protest.
Lyngdoh said, “Language is the first root for oppression. This is absolutely bullying and this approach I don’t appreciate.”
Lyngdoh said that when she was minister in the previous government, she had strongly opposed Hindi speaking meetings.
The East Shillong legislator said, “If he (Governor) is stubborn speaking in Hindi then I am also stubborn of not listening to anyone speaking in Hindi, so if we will both be stubborn where will this country go?”
Moreover, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma maintained that it is the prerogative of the Governor to address in which ever language he is comfortable.
Dr Sangma however said that the Governor should know that the members of the house are not familiar with the Hindi language and should have addressed the house in a language understood by all.
The Leader of Opposition said that the Meghalaya Assembly has its own legacy, and there have been times wherein members of the House had discussed whether legislators can deliberate in Garo or Khasi since these are the state’s official languages.
“But because of the legacy of this House which is exclusive and unique in the whole country, we decided that if our predecessors have created this legacy let it remain as the convention and practice and let us preserve this legacy as we are proud of this legacy,” Dr Sangma said.
Lone KHNAM legislator, Adelbert Nongrum taking a cue from the Hindi speech of the Governor said that a legislator should be allowed to speak in a language which one is comfortable in.
However, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangam tried to down play the issue by saying that the Governor was more comfortable speaking in Hindi.
Congress legislator from Umroi, Umroi constituency George Bankyntiew Lyngdoh said that the speech should have been more elaborate.
“We had tough time flipping from one page to another. It was totally disconnected, some words like Garo Hills became “Gora Hills”,” he added.
“It is not an odd thing that is happening. The governor was more comfortable speaking in Hindi, which is not a foreign language. I don’t see any reason why that should be an issue when everything is given in the document in English,” Conrad said.