Electricity bill in Gujarati? MNS storms into power company’s office only to find the user opted for it

Electricity bill in Gujarati? MNS storms into power company's office only to find the user opted for it
MNS leader Nayan Kadam with party workers at Reliance Energy’s office in Dahisar (inset: a copy of the bill in Gujarati). Picture Courtesy: Rahul Shivalkar

After a poor show at the recently concluded BMC polls, one would rationalize that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) was going to take a step back and rethink how it could win the common man’s trust again.

Unfortunately, that rationale was left behind when MNS leader and party workers stormed into Reliance Energy’s office in Dahisar on Wednesday, demanding an explanation of how an electricity bill issued in Mumbai could possibly be in Gujarati.

The seemingly controversial bill:

Earlier this week, a bill issued by Reliance Energy to a Borivali-based businessman started doing rounds on social media because unlike most bills issued in Mumbai, the headings were all in Gujarati instead of Marathi or English.

The bill sparked a minor outrage among fanatics, who started blaming the company for trying to promote Gujarati over Marathi as the state’s official language.

Some even ‘escalated’ the mistake to MNS and Shiv Sena, who have often voiced out issues concerning the Marathi manoos. While Sena, who emerged as the leading party in the BMC polls, choose to downplay the issue, MNS did the exact opposite.

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The electricity bill in Gujarati. Picture Courtesy: Rahul Shivalkar

A visit to Reliance Energy:

Unsurprisingly, without checking why the bill was issued in Gujarati in the first place, MNS Vice-President Nayan Kadam stormed into Reliance Energy’s office at Dahisar along with several party workers yesterday.

Kadam demanded that the company issue bills only in Marathi, Hindi or English instead of Gujarati in Maharashtra. “Why does the company want to start sending bills in Gujarati to customers in Maharashtra,” Kadam argued.

In a letter to Reliance, Kadam claimed that the power company had hurt the sentiments of Marathi people and questioned if they sent bills in Marathi to customers in Chennai.

He even threatened to intensify the agitation if the company failed to make amends, holding them responsible for any incident that occurs following inaction on their part.

In his letter, Kadam also stated that BJP might have won more seats in Mumbai’s municipal polls, but the MNS will continue to be the first ones to take up issues related to the Marathi community.

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The letter addressed to Reliance Energy by Nayan Kadam. Picture Courtesy: Rahul Shivalkar

The revelation:

On Reliance Energy’s part, the explanation for the language conundrum was fairly simple and straightforward. The company provides customers an option of choosing the language in which they want their bill, including Marathi.

In this particular case, Reliance Energy clarified that it has been found that the complainant bought the flat from a Gujarati, who had opted for billing in his language, although the new flat owner has not changed the language option after buying the flat.

“Being a customer-centric organisation, Reliance Energy has been providing, since 2005, four language options viz Marathi, Hindi, English and Gujarati for the bills of our esteemed customers. We even provide bill option in Braille. A customer wanting to change the language option of their bill can easily do so through anyone of our touch points like the toll free call centre, customer care centres, mobile app or website,” Reliance Energy said in a statement.

A screengrab from the company’s website also shows the option of changing the language. Even a message sent to a company asking for a clarification about the bill’s language elicited a response within minutes.

Electricity bill in Gujarati? MNS storms into power company's office only to find the user opted for it 2
Reliance Energy’s website lists the 4 languages in which users can get their bill. Picture Courtesy: Rahul Shivalkar

Similar incident:

Incidentally, this isn’t even the first time this year MNS has tried to play the language card.

Just last month, MNS workers had defaced the outer wall of a HDFC bank branch in Thane after learning that its website was showing Mumbai’s regional language as ‘Gujarati’ instead of ‘Marathi’.

The error was caused due to a small misconfiguration in Google’s search algorithm and was rectified in a few hours. HDFC even issued an official statement explaining the same.

Political struggle:

Even though the party claims that the loss in BMC polls has nothing to do with taking up this issue with the power company, it is imperative that it shifts focus to the issues that concern an average citizen.

This lack of foresight could very well be the reason why MNS, from witnessing a stupendous rise in 2012 civic body elections when it won 28 seats despite going head to head with Shiv Sena, has now been reduced to a party that struggling to stay relevant.

Even the Marathi population, which once adored Raj Thackeray for his leadership and oratory skills, deserted him and his party in the recent polls, where it managed to win only seven seats.

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