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Tuesday, February 27, 2018
By Prashant Hamine

Guv speech not translated into Marathi, search on for scapegoats

A costly, casual approach by the administrative machinery in ensuring prompt Marathi translation of Governor's address to the joint session of the state legislature on the very first day of the budget session yesterday, left the government red-faced in embarrassment. The incident assumed even more seriousness with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao writing to Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Legislative Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade to take serious note of non-availability of Marathi translation facility during his address. The costly goof-up comes a day ahead as the state government was busy in organising various programmes to celebrate Marathi Bhasha Divas (Marathi Language Day).

In a strongly worded letter addressed to the presiding officers of both the houses of the state legislature, the Governor stated, “It was observed that the Marathi translation of my speech was not taking place. I am of the view that it needs to be considered with utmost seriousness and strong action needs to be taken against those responsible for this serious lapse. I request you to kindly take appropriate action and inform me about the same”.

The standard practice over the years has been that when the Governor begins delivering his address to the joint session of the state legislature, a Marathi translator, translates the Governor’s speech from English into Marathi which the members of both the houses get to hear through the earphones available at their desk. Irked at not being able to hear the Governor’s speech in Marathi the opposition boycotted the Governors address and staged a noisy protest in the Vidhan Bhavan premises. In an attempt to damage control, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis apologised for the incident and assured that it will not happen again.

The Chief Minister further said, “This is a serious issue, that a Minister had to do a job of reading and translating the speech into Marathi. The issue comes under the purview of the Speaker so the action should be taken against those responsible”. Leader of the House in Legislative Council, Chandrakant Patil expressed similar apology in the upper house.

Later speaking to newspersons at Vidhan Bhavan, Minister for Marathi Bhasha Vinod Tawde disclosed that the regular translator Pradeep Bhide was not available due to ill health. Hence Shriram Kelkar from All India Radio (AIR) was summoned and he did arrive at Vidhan Bhavan around 10.40 am just before time for the Governor's address at the Central Hall on the fifth floor at 11.00 am. By then the movement started before the Governors arrival and hence Kelkar was taken around in altogether different direction. Kelkar was taken to the reading room of the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) on the ground floor, instead of the fifth floor.

Tawde sensing something was amiss as the opposition members began protesting, rushed to the reading room of the Central Hall on the fifth floor and taking the cue from the Governors address began translating the speech into Marathi for about 45 minutes.

Later a senior officer from the governments Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR) disclosed that the Vidhan Bhavan authorities requested them to provide them with the services of a Marathi translator. So they recommended a person, later on it was the job of the Vidhan Bhavan administration to do the rest of the formalities. The DGIPR official speaking on conditions of anonymity disclosed that actually this work should have been done by the governments Directorate of Marathi Language.

Leader of opposition in legislative assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil slammed the government and demanded an inquiry into the matter. While Leader of opposition in legislative council Dhananjay Munde remarked that the government had insulted the Marathi language. He further argued that not only was the speech was not being translated into Marathi, they were hearing the speech in Gujarathi. The opposition members later gathered near the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Vidhan Bhavan premises and raised slogans against the government.

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