Saturday 20 April 2019

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Cong-BJP approaches high command on language row

 

With the major national parties literally divided on the ongoing language controversy in Goa, their high command is now being brought into picture to resolve the issue amicably.

Former union law minister Ramakant Khalap, the Congress legislator, has already approached the high command with a request not to issue a whip on the two private members' bills being moved on bringing Marathi on par with Konkani, Goa's sole official language.

Khalap, along with three other legislators, has already come out in support of the bill moved by his former party – the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party – which proposes to make Marathi the official language along with Konkani.

Another bill is being moved by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the coalition partner of the Francisco Sardinha government, proposing equal status to Marathi while also making a provision to grant all the facilities enjoyed by Konkani.

Khalap even convened a well-attended special convention of pro-Marathi Congressmen on Sunday, but failed to garner support of not more than three legislators out of total 15 as rest of his colleagues are opposing any kind of change in the existing official language act, passed in 1987 during the Congress regime.

His public statement that all the four legislators would not mind defying the whip, if issued to vote against the bill, however irked several party legislators as well as PCC members, compelling PCC chief Luizinho Faleiro to convene an emergency joint meeting of the CLP and the PCC today morning.

"We have unanimously decided to issue a whip even to defeat the private members' bills to amend the official language act", announced Faleiro after the meeting. Khalap later said the decision was taken by majority and he along with few others opposed it.

"I will once again appeal to the high command to instruct the local party unit not to issue the whip but allow us to vote as per our conscience", says Khalap. Voting against the amendment would amount to betrayal of the electorate who support the cause of Marathi, he feels.

The PCC-CLP decision also comes in the wake of an assurance given by Faleiro at the recently held state-level workers' meeting of the Konkan Projecho Avaz (Voice of Konkani People), which had led a 555 day-long violent agitation in 1987, to issue whip against all the amendments to the act.

Though Faleiro says that the decision is being taken as per party's policy on the language issue, Khalap recalls that the Congress had watered down its original stand of allowing limited use of Marathi long ago, by allowing it for all official purposes at the time of passing the legislation in 1987.

"What the Congress meant while changing the original policy was to grant equal status to Marathi. I am not trying to achieve anything different from this", he says, but refuses to support the BJP bill which also proposes equal status to Marathi.

The BJP proposal, moved by the party leader Manohar Parrikar, is however also being opposed by his own party workers at the grassroot level by publicly participating into the meeting organised by the Goa Hit Rakhan Manch, the organisation of youth fighting against any amendment to the act.

Young party activists from different areas have already started faxing letters to union home minister L K Advani to intervene into the matter and instruct the local leaders not to move the bill in the ongoing Assembly session. These activists have also started gheraoing their legislators in order to pressurise them.

Chief minister Sardinha has also taken a firm decision not to support his coalition partners on the amendment but to issue a whip to defeat it at the introduction stage itself. "He should either tell the BJP to withdraw it or resign as the chief minister", demands Faleiro, as Sardinha was also elected on Congress ticket but later split the party to form a coalition government with the BJP in November last year.






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