Mumbai: There was uproar in the Maharashtra legislature on Friday after an opposition member claimed some pages of a geography textbook for Class 6 were in Gujarati, instead of Marathi. This is the second such goof-up to rock the Maharashtra legislature this year, throwing into sharp relief the Marathi-versus-Gujarati debate in the state.
Sunil Tatkare, member of legislative council of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) raised the issue in the House, saying in some Class VI geography textbooks for Marathi medium students, sold in his native Raigad district, there were six pages in Gujarati.
Refuting Tatkare’s charge, Revenue Minister and Leader of the House Chandrakant Patil denied that the textbooks published by Balbharati, a state government body, were printed in wholesale with Gujarati pages.
“It could be a binding mistake in a few copies,” he said. He said the possibility of these pages being deliberately inserted in a few books could not be ruled out.
Next, he went on to accuse Tatkare of having pasted these Gujarati pages to politicize the issue. Tatkare then waved a copy of the textbook in the House and challenged that if the government could prove he was guilty (of introducing the Gujarati pages), he would commit suicide. The ensuing furore led to an adjournment of the Upper House for the day.
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde (NCP) said the issue concerned the pride of every Maharashtrian. “It seems you want to turn Maharashtra into Gujarat,” he said. “The Leader of the House should accept the mistake. How can he say we have doctored the book? There are about one lakh such books,” he said, demanding a reply from the government. Munde pointed out that all the textbooks were printed by Shlok Printcity, Ahmedabad, and the stamp of the Maharashtra education department was also printed on them. “You may be helpless when it comes to Gujarat, but Maharashtra will not be helpless since it’s a matter of this stat’s pride,” Munde thundered. The House chairman then directed the government to enquire into the matter and make a statement on Monday. The Opposition has accused the ruling BJP of appeasing the Gujarati community after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. On Friday, the Shiv Sena, which has always been critical of the ruling ally BJP, maintained silence on the issue, barring a suggestion by its senior member Neelam Gorhe to check other textbooks for such errors.
Earlier, during the budget session in February-March, copies of Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s address to the House were circulated in Gujarati, after which the Opposition had staged a walkout.