Mumbai: Returning to its belligerent pro-Marathi agenda, members of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Friday vandalised offices and godowns of e-commerce retailer Amazon for failing to provide a Marathi language option on its app and taking the party to court.
Raising slogans against the e-retailer, MNS workers attacked Amazon’s offices and godowns in Pune’s Kondhwa and Mumbai’s Chandivli areas. The attack comes a day after a Mumbai court issued notice to Thackeray, directing him to be present before it on 5 January while hearing Amazon’s plea against the political party. Amazon had approached the court, alleging that its posters were torn by MNS workers.
Santosh Dhuri, an MNS functionary, told ThePrint, “Our party workers targeted offices of Amazon. There is a lot of anger over a notice being issued to Rajsaheb asking him to be present in court. Officials of Amazon are not even willing to speak or discuss our demand of including Marathi in their app. They directly went to court.”
The MNS-Amazon conflict
The conflict started in October when MNS leader Akhil Chitre threatened to agitate against e-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Amazon for not including Marathi as a language option on their apps.
“Following Chitre’s letter to Amazon, the company’s representatives had a meeting with MNS leaders assuring them that they are working on introducing the Marathi language option on the Amazon app. But, they did nothing about it later and instead filed cases against us in court. Our party workers are enraged,” an MNS leader said.
Earlier this month, the party launched a ‘No Marathi, No Amazon’ campaign, putting up posters threatening to ban the company if it did not comply. Following this, Amazon India took MNS to court.
On Tuesday, Chitre shot off a letter to Amazon, addressing it to Jeff Bezos, founder-CEO of Amazon, saying, “We have no intention to get into a legal tussle with Amazon, but for our mother tongue, we as Maharashtrians can go up to any extent. The agitation on social media platforms (#NoMarathi_NoAmazon) as well as on the ground is just the tip of the iceberg. So I hereby sincerely once again with folded hands request you to intervene in this matter…”
Final request with folded hands,hope you go through the facts put down in the letter and take necessary corrective steps accordingly to incorporate’Marathi’in the app option list at the earliest.@mnsadhikrut @JeffBezos @AmitAgarwal @GopalPillai @RahulSundaram6 @amazon @amazonIN pic.twitter.com/JVQiB8xqF4
— Akhil Chitre अखिल चित्रे (@akhil1485) December 23, 2020
According to reports, Flipkart has now introduced a Marathi language option on its app.
MNS politics over local language
With the 2022 Mumbai civic body polls drawing closer, the MNS has been increasingly highlighting its political agenda of pushing the Marathi language over the past few months.
Party insiders say, with the Shiv Sena having allied with former rivals Congress and Nationalist Congress Party under the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) umbrella, its hardcore Marathi Hindutva voter base could be a bit disillusioned. The MNS is looking to tap into this resentment to swing the ‘sons of the soil’ and anti-Congress votes in its favour.
In October, a few party functionaries reportedly beat up a jeweller in South Mumbai’s Colaba for refusing to speak to author Shobha Deshpande in Marathi.
The MNS had also sent a letter to Disney Hotstar to make the Indian Premier League commentary available in Marathi.