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Maharashtra Govt Should Take Back Taxi Decision: Nitish

PTI January 21, 2010 19:49 IST

Maharashtra government's decision to give licences to only those taxi drivers fluent in Marathi was an "attempt to break the unity and integrity of the country," Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said, demanding immediate withdrawal of the order. 

The Maharashtra government's decision was an attack on the federal structure of the society and would have far reaching repercussions on other states, he said in Patna. 

Kumar said he would write to Prime Minister Manomhan Singh in this regard as the Constitution provides every citizen of the country the right to move and settle in any part of the country in search of job. "Earlier, North Indians were beaten up by Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS) for appearing in Railway and other examinations. 

"Now the Congress-NCP government headed by Ashok Chavan has made it official by deciding that taxi drivers could get permits only if they have lived in Mumbai for at least 15 years and should be fluent in Marathi language ... This is a dangerous trend and the decision should be revoked forthwith," Kumar said. 

Requesting the Prime Minister to interfere and get the controversial decision revoked in the interest of the country, Kumar said, "Mumbai is the economic capital of the country ... India is a union of states and there is only one nationality. Hence every Indian has the right to go anywhere in the country, settle, work and do business of his choice in any part of India peacefully". 

Besides, none can do business in any state if the person did not become adept to the local language. Giving an example, the chief minister said if any Mumbaikar visited Bihar in search of work, he would have to first learn the local language. 

Hence, the condition imposed on new applications for taxi driver permits to be domiciled in the state and to be able to read, write and speak Marathi should be lifted immediately, he added.

Nitish Kumar on Thursday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get rescinded the Maharashtra government's decision that those applying for taxi permits should be a domicile of the state for 15 years. 

"It has become a matter of deep concern for us and has anguished and alarmed the population of our state as well as the migrant population following the Maharashtra government's decision," Kumar said in a letter faxed to Singh. 

He said lakhs of people were driving taxies and other commercial vehicles in Maharashtra and they fulfill the basic needs of transportation as well as contribute to the economy of the state. 

"Thousands more join this work force each year and most of them come from outside the state ... Maharashtra government's decision will effectively debar people coming from outside the state and is not only against federal structure but also against the Constitution," he said. 

The decision will create barriers to free migration within the country, give rise to parochial tendencies and "is extremely dangerous for the integrity of our country", the letter said. 

"I request you, to take this problem head on so that fissiparous and divisive forces do not rear their head...The Centre should send an advisory to the Maharashtra government in this connection," he demanded. PTI