‘I want to send Raj Thackeray to England’


Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi tells Shobhita Naithani that if he’s not given legislative documents in Hindi, he will go to court

Photo: K Sateesh

You are the first MLA in Maharashtra who has asked for legislative documents in Hindi. Why have you made such a demand?
In Maharasthra, you can give an election speech in Hindi, but you get documents only in Marathi and English. When our national language is Hindi, why is English given so much importance? I respect Marathi but Hindi should be given importance.

The entire business of the state Assembly is transacted in Marathi, the state language. Why should they change it for you?
I am from Uttar Pradesh and I do not have command over the language. I am fluent in Hindi and if I get the documents in Hindi, I will be able to work better. Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) only indulge in hate politics. I will not let them succeed.

What would be your response to MNS chief Raj Thackeray when he says you should move to UP if you want the use of Hindi in the Assembly?
I want to send him to England because he loves English more than Hindi. What’s the point in having him in India?

You have always been a vocal critic of Raj Thackeray and his anti-north Indian politics…
This man has attacked people from my community; even the government supported him. In that case it is only right that I fight for my people.

Is the Vidhan Sabha win a good opportunity for you to strike back at Raj Thackeray?
Definitely. I will work towards getting a law passed in the Assembly, similar to the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, for the north Indians.

Your critics say you have no reason to make a demand like this because you have been residing in Mumbai for a long time. Haven’t you learnt Marathi?
I have been in Mumbai since 1973. Lakhs of people, many of them who are born here, do not know Marathi. I am not the only one. I can understand the language, but I am not fluent.

Are you doing this to make your presence felt in a state dominated by the Shiv Sena, MNS, Congress and the NCP?
My effort is to make the Samajwadi party a leading party in the state. But it would be wrong to say I am raising this issue to garner publicity.

‘Lakhs of people, many of them who are born here, do not know Marathi. I am not the only one’

You have also demanded that Hindi replace English in the Assembly. Isn’t that too much and too early to ask for?
Why not? In the Assembly, I will have to give speeches and read documents in Marathi, which I do not know very well. I have all the right to ask for it. It’s our national language.

With a Vidhan Sabha seat in your pocket, you seem to be confident that officials will pay heed to your demand.
If they don’t fulfill my demand, I will go to court.

Having made this demand, you have become the common enemy of the Shiv Sena and the MNS. Does it worry you that this could reinforce fresh ties between the separated Thackeray cousins?
Every time the Marathi manoos agenda is raised, dono chacha-bhatija bhagtein hain us muddey ke peeche politics karne ke liye (both uncle and nephew run to make a political issue out of it) lest they lose their grip over Maharashtra politics.


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