Friday 22 November 2019

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Language controversy once again ?

 

The four-decade long language controversy, which had even witnessed violent outbursts for over a fortnight in the tourist state in late '80s, is coming to the fore once again giving a clear indication that confrontation is imminent once again.

After resolving the controversy by passing the official language act in 1987, Marathi protagonists here are up in the arms once again as the high court verdict has clearly stated that Konkani, and not Marathi, is the sole official language of the state.

Though Marathi is allowed to be used for all or any official purposes while also providing full protection for the language in the social, cultural or educational field, the Marathi protagonists are irked over the fact that it has not been accorded official status.

"Marathi represents cultural aspirations of Goans while it is still being widely used in the field of education, literature, theatre and other cultural forms. Goa even has largest number of Marathi newspapers against the sole Konkani daily", states Shashikala Kakodkar, the newly elected president of the Marathi Rajyabhasha Prasthapan Samiti.

Headed by Kakodkar, the former chief minister belonging to the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, the MRPS has begun a movement to accord official status also to Marathi by bringing an amendment to the existing act. The youth have also joined them by forming a separate non-political body to strengthen the agitation.

"Konkani is the foundation of Goan identity and no other language can take or share its place. Konkani is spoken by over 95 per cent people of Goa and therefore Konkani alone can be the official language of this state", states a joint communique released by veteran Konkani writers of Goa headed by Adv Uday Bhembre, leader of the Konkani movement.

While reiterating that Goa is not a bilingual state, Bhembre fears that according official status to Marathi may open gates of employment to crores of neighbouring Marathi-speaking Maharashtrians as the court verdict had been delivered based on a plea that knowledge of Marathi may also be made compulsory for the purpose of employment, along with Konkani.

While the same argument of Marathi was once used to merge Goa into Maharashtra (which was later resolved by holding opinion poll in 1967), he fears that Goa may be once again dragged into the contemplated plan to form another Marathi state by reviving the border dispute among Maharashtra and Karnataka, if Marathi is made the official language here.

The issue has also been politicised now with former union minister Ramakant Khalap, along with three other Congress legislators, has upheld the cause of Marathi while challenging his party of expel them if his party – presently in the opposition – does not agree with the demand.

A joint meeting of the Goa PCC and CLP held on Monday has however resolved that the language issue should not be revived once again as it was unanimously resolved in 1987. PCC president Luizinho Faleiro has also thrown the ball in the court of the government stating that the government should make its stand clear on the issue.

The 10-member BJP, which is part of the Francisco Sardinha-led coalition government, has already supported the demand of making Marathi the official language, besides three Congressmen and two MGP legislators in the 40-member House. In fact the BJP has even assured to bring the amendment bill in this regard.

Sardinha, the staunch Konkani supporter, is thus in a quandary as supporting his coalition partners could even result in his short tenure coming to an end. The Congress is bound to seize the opportunity to split the Sardinha-led Goan People's Congress and come back to power by fully exploiting the existing situation.

Reacting to it, Dr Wilfred de Souza, the sole NCP legislator, has warned Sardinha not to play with fire while also requesting him to tell the BJP members to leave the government. "I will assure support of other parties to run his government to give people of Goa what they deserve", he states.






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