The Maharashtra Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday requiring the use of Marathi in official operations of local authorities, including civic organisations and businesses constituted by the state government.
State minister Subhash Desai stated that the law was necessary since the Maharashtra Official Language Act of 1964 did not require local bodies to utilise Marathi in their official operations.
He also gave examples of authorities taking “advantage” of the Act’s lack of the provision.
It is our goal to eliminate that error, Mr Desai added.
He stated that any (local) authority, whether created by the state government, the central government, or (state-run) firms, will be required to use Marathi when engaging with people and doing internal business.
The minister also stated that local authorities may utilise English or Hindi for specific government functions, like interacting with foreign diplomats.
Earlier on the bill, BJP MLA Yogesh Sagar questioned why the “passion for Marathi” emerges when elections are near. He was likely addressing the upcoming local body elections, notably those for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Mr Sagar supported the measure and stated that all files must be in Marathi only. In response, Mr Desai stated that the matter should not be politicised.
Should we abandon our responsibilities just because elections are approaching? We have the right to introduce the bill. Elections come and go, he said.