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Ruckus in Rajasthan Assembly forces Governor to leave in a huff

Mohammed Iqbal
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Following BJP’s objection that she was going to speak in English

Governor Margaret Alva being received on arrival at the State Assembly in Jaipur on Thursday.Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
Governor Margaret Alva being received on arrival at the State Assembly in Jaipur on Thursday.Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

An embarrassed Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva left her address to the Assembly halfway on the opening day of the Budget session here on Thursday and announced it as having been read following an objection raised by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party over reports that she was going to deliver the address in English.

BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, who had resigned as Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday, raised the matter as soon as the House assembled and cited some newspaper reports suggesting that the Governor was keen on reading out the English text of the customary speech.

“Under Article 176 of the Constitution, the State Cabinet approves the address [which] the Governor is supposed to deliver. It is required to be drafted in Hindi, which is the official language. The translated draft [in English] can only be tabled in the House and not read,” said Mr. Tiwari.

Ms. Alva listened patiently to the BJP leader’s contention. Afterwards, even as she started delivering the address in Hindi language, the three Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLAs led by Amra Ram, Independent member Golma Devi and Hanuman Beniwal, suspended from the BJP Legislature Party, raised the issue of loss of crops and livelihood and started raising slogans.

Ms. Alva, well-versed in Hindi even though she hails from Karnataka, read out a brief portion of the address and finished it abruptly with the salutation, “Jai Hind!”. “You may treat the entire address as read in view of what has happened here,” she remarked tersely in English.

In the middle of the Governor's address, the CPI(M) MLAs walked out in protest against the State Government’s alleged indifference to the problems of farmers and labourers which were highlighted during the two-day strike called by trade unions.

Mr. Amra Ram said the ruling Congress was not willing to pay compensation to farmers for extensive loss of crops.

In her written 46-page address, Ms. Alva praised the State Government’s 15 flagship schemes, saying their successful implementation had resolved the common people’s problems relating to livelihood, medicine, education and housing. She said a slew of measures had been initiated in Rajasthan for speedy development.

Mr. Tiwari’s outburst on a non-issue without much relevance to the Assembly’s functioning was seen as an indication of his disappointment over the recent reorganisation in the BJP. His resignation as Deputy Leader of the Opposition is also linked with the denial of the party’s State president post to him.

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