Following this, the Maharashrta Navnirman Samithi (MNS) issued a dire threat not to allow non-Marathi taxi drivers in Mumbai any more.
Faced with widespread outrage over the state cabinet’s decision on giving taxi permits in future only to those who can speak, read and write Marathi, Chavan made a clarification on Thursday morning that permits will be given to anybody knowing “a local language.” And the local language includes Marathi, Gujarati as well as Hindi, Chavan said. Cutting a sorry figure, Chavan denied any pressure over the language row. It was, however, obvious that Chavan was forced to issue clarification after he got a strong message from the party high command.
Meanwhile, MNS Chief Raj Thackeray, who has been in the forefront of an anti-migrant campaign in the state, warned that Mumbai’s taxi fleet would be brought to a standstill if Marathi-speaking people do not get taxi permits as a result of Chavan’s about turn.
Raj criticised Chavan for watering down the cabinet decision to make Marathi a mandatory clause for new taxi permits to be issued by the state.
“More than the welfare of the people, Congress chief ministers are more concerned about what “Madam” (Sonia Gandhi) would think,” Raj taunted Chavan.
The MNS chief attacked Chavan for being a “hand-picked” chief minister and not someone who has earned the post through hard work.
Raj pointed out that the local language clause was the collective decision of the Cabinet and questioned as to how the chief minister could unilaterally go back on the Cabinet decision and give a different interpretation to the term.
“The local language of Maharashtra can only be Marathi and cannot be interpreted as any other language,” Raj said.
“Our stand is clear that if Marathi people do not get the new permits to be issued by transport department then we will not allow a single taxi to ply on the road,” Raj warned.
Sena joins chorus
Shiv Sena too blasted Chavan for the sudden U-turn. The Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said the chief minister brought “dishonour and disgrace” to Maharashtra by changing the decision within 24 hours.