Friday 22 November 2019

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Politics grips language issue

 

The four-decade old language controversy of Goa has once again started moving around the political arena rather than linguistic philosophy, wondering whether it would lead to changing of the existing six-month old coalition government.

With the high court ruling last month that the 13-year old official language act makes only Konkani as the official language of the state, movement is now slowly emerging in the peaceful state to amend the act in order to grant similar status to Marathi.

"The issue has been amicably resolved in 1987. We don't want to rake it up once again and disturb the peace and harmony in our state", chief minister Francisco Sardinha has stated categorically. He heads a 10-member Goan Peoples' Congress in the 40-member House.

But situation has changed drastically with the 10-member Bharatiya Janata Party, the coalition partner, passing a resolution at the recently held state convention contrary to what Sardinha states. They have assured to move an amendment to grant equal status to Marathi at the monsoon Assembly session.

"Without altering the basic structure of the act and also without compromising status of Konkani, the BJP proposes that a bill may be passed in the coming Assembly session to amend the official language act suitably to accord equal status to Marathi", states the resolution.

Legal experts wonder how it is possible since making Marathi the official language would mean that Konkani's sole official status would be compromised while the basic structure of the act would also be altered since Goa would be then accorded a status of dual-language state.

Konkani writers, artists and activists have thus condemned the BJP's attempt to foist two official languages on Goans when 95 per cent of them speak Konkani. "Marathi is not spoken language of Goa nor there is any Marathi-speaking area here. Therefore there is no reason for making it official language", feels Adv. Uday Bhembre.

As Marathi is presently being used in several fields here including education and culture for over four centuries from the time Portuguese suppressed use of Konkani, the existing act provides that Marathi shall be used for any or all official purposes while also fully protecting it in educational, social and cultural fields.

Prof Gopalrao Mayekar, president of the Gomantak Marathi Academy, however looks at the BJP's stand as the expression towards respecting the Indian culture and traditions. He hopes that legislators from other parties would also come forward to support the amendment in July.

While two members of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party are fully with the issue, at least five Congress MLAs out of 16 have gone against party's decision not to rake up the language controversy once again. Former union minister Ramakant Khalap has even thrown up a challenge to expel him from the party.

Hitting out at Khalap as well as MGP leaders indirectly, the BJP resolution states that "they are fanning public sentiments by avoiding the core issue just to save their skin and are making feeble attempts to re-establish their long vanished leadership".

BJP leaders privately claim that they have supported the issue simply to restrain the Hindu vote bank from going towards the MGP, the party which has consistently supported Marathi. "The BJP has shown its intellectual bankruptcy in not trying to understand the serious implications of having two official languages at the cost of interest of Goa and Goans", states Adv. Bhembre, the Konkani leader.

Marathi leaders like Prof Mayekar have however already started searching for four more legislators to get the amendment passed as 17 have already publicly committed to support the amendment, including 10 from the BJP, two MGP and five Congressmen.

"We will neither move the government bill nor support the amendment", asserts chief minister Sardinha. If similar situation prevails till the July session, then it would obviously lead to the ruling BJP parting away with the government. The new combination on the basis of language issue would the thus inevitable.






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