Mumbai, Feb 26: In a huge embarrassment for Maharashtra’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday had to tender an unconditional apology in the legislature after a Gujarati translation audio of Governor C.V. Rao’s speech was played in the House.
His action followed the Governor taking the issue with Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade soon after his speech.
“During my address to the Joint Session of the Legislature in the morning today (Monday), 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 a strong action needs to be taken against those responsible for this serious lapse,” Rao said in his letter.
He also asked the Speaker to take appropriate action in the matter and inform him of the same.
Earlier, when the matter came to light, Fadnavis got up and tendered an unconditional apology to the House and the members for the gaffe which he termed “a very serious issue”.
The incident, ironically, occurred a day before the Marathi Language Day (February 27).
Barely a few minutes into the speech, delivered by Rao in English, most members were startled to hear a Gujarati translation on their headphones instead of the regular Marathi version.
Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party members created a ruckus, flaying the government for the Gujarati audio and vociferously demanded a Marathi translation audio.
“This is a very serious issue..it cannot be taken lightly,” said Leader of Opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, of the Congress.
His counterpart in the Council, NCP’s Dhananjay Munde said: “The government has failed the 12 crore citizens of Maharashtra.. we did not hear the speech in Marathi, but in the Gujarati language.”
Led by their two leaders, the main opposition members boycotted the Governor’s remaining speech and staged a noisy walkout.
Education Minister Vinod Tawde said when he heard the Gujarati translation audio, he rushed to the Legislature Control Room to personally check and later read out the Marathi translation of the Governor’s speech, but said it was not clear if it was a technical glitch or something else.
On his part, Fadnavis apologised and requested Speaker Bagade to initiate stringent action against the people responsible and punish them by Monday evening itself, if possible.
“It is indeed a very grave mistake. This is indeed a serious matter. I am requesting the Honourable Speaker to look into this immediately and take stringent action against those responsible. In fact, if possible by this evening, they should be shunted home. I also hereby unconditionally apologise for this,” he said.
This is described as an ‘unprecedented’ incident in the state’s history and happened on the eve of the Marathi Language Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of renowned litterateur V.V. Shirwadkar, when the government organises a series of programmes in the state to popularise the state’s official language.