Fuelling the language row further in Maharashtra, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on Monday asked taxi drivers from the Hindi-speaking states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to be conversant in Marathi within 40 days or return to their native homes.
As part of its 'Marathi manoos' agenda, activists of the transport wing of the MNS on Monday hit the streets and distributed Marathi alphabets books to taxi drivers asking them to learn to speak the language fast.
"We have given Marathi alphabets books to 300 north Indian taxi drivers in Kurla and set a 40-day deadline to learn the language," Maharashtra Navnirman Vahtuk Sena president Haji Arafat Sheikh said.
The outfit plans to distribute 50,000 Marathi books among taxi and auto drivers who can't speak Marathi, Sheikh said.
"It is very shocking that people earning here for more than 15 years cannot communicate in Marathi. They must learn the language, else will book their tickets to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar," Sheikh warned.
The MNS activists also put up hoardings in the city asking north Indian drivers to learn the state language amid reports that some drivers were asked to take an oath that they would learn the language as early as possible.
Sheikh also criticised Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's 'U-turn' over making knowledge of Marathi compulsory for taxi drivers in the state."The chief minister earlier made compulsory knowledge of Marathi for taxi drivers and later he changed the decision without consulting the cabinet," Sheikh said.