India Today



You’d think its history of language politics would have nixed such a possibilit­y. But politics never ceases to surprise. There’s a hot new item in Maharashtr­a’s campaign polemics: English proficienc­y, as a marker of education. With a deficiency in the former allegedly implying the lack of the other! Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil, BJP MP from Ahmednagar, took Maratha politics to these unfamiliar waters when he took a swipe at his rival Nilesh Lanke’s lack of command over English and Hindi. “I will not file my nomination if, over the next month, my opponent can repeat my speeches verbatim even after learning them by rote,” he said, throwing a dare to the Sharad Pawar NCP candidate. Vikhe Patil, a neurosurge­on, speaks with all the nerve of the well- heeled— his dad, state revenue minister Radhakrish­na Vikhe Patil, is a cooperativ­es and education baron. Lanke, the MLA from Parner, himself highlighte­d the contrast. He retorted that he grew up in a rural agrarian family, a good country mile away from English- medium education. And that was no hurdle when it came to public service, said the graduate from Yashwantra­o Chavan Maharashtr­a Open University. He could speak in Parliament in Marathi, he said, but put out a post on X in English to taunt his tormenter right back, echoing something his political master had said once: “Hard work beats money and muscle.” The Maratha agitation, in fact, was a key formative factor in the creation of Maharashtr­a and the state has had CMs like Vasantdada Patil, known for his administra­tive acumen and grasp over statecraft despite being educated only up to Standard V and with no functional English or Hindi.

 ?? Illustrati­ons by SIDDHANT JUMDE ??
Illustrati­ons by SIDDHANT JUMDE

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