JANAKPUR, March 9: With the tussle between those for and against 'Hindi as the official language' of Province 2 growing, the language debate in the province has become complicated. The ruling and opposition parties are unlikely to resolve this debate anytime soon.
While the ruling parties such as Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) are vocal about adopting Hindi as the language of official business in the province, opposition leaders from the Nepali Congress (NC) argue that this can never happen.
On the other hand, CPN-UML and Maoists leaders, though they are not in the opposition, have made informal statements that either Maithali or Bhojpuri could be the official language. If there is no consensus on any local language, Nepali could rather be used as the official language instead of Hindi, they say.
"See, we cannot take a decision just on the basis of emotions. Be practical. For those in the eastern side of the province, Bhojpuri is a difficult language. And those who live in the western side cannot speak Maithili properly. But, both can speak Hindi. So, Hindi alone can become the language to connect the people here," states Yogendra Raya Yadav, a member of the Business Advisory Committee under the federal parliament. "If we make Maithili the official language, Bhojpuri speaking people won't accept it. And vice versa," he added.
The parliamentary party leader of NC, Ramsaroj Yadav is not ready to buy the argument. He calls it a huge betrayal against the locals. The party which rose to power through identity-based politics is going against it today, he said.
"In the past, it was them, who used to protest against one official language policy. They used to talk big about promoting the local languages, cultures, and identity. And today, they are not feeling ashamed or odd to promote a language which is heavily spoken in some other country as the main language of their province," he said.
Yadav added that it is a great misfortune for the province that the Madhes-based leaders themselves are trying to betray their land and people. "If they really want a link language, has the Nepali language died? Can't it connect the two - Maithili and Bhojpuri speakers? Why have they not understood this? Rather than Hindi, the people here would love to speak and write Nepali as the official language," he stated.
According to Yadav, Hindi can never be the official language of the province. Even if it is passed by the provincial assembly as the official language due to the 'power equation', that will never be accepted to the people, he said.
"If we cannot fight in parliament, we will fight on the streets," he stated.
Parliamentary party leader of CPN-UML, Satya Narayan Mandal also maintained that Hindi should not be the official language of the province. That will weaken the local languages, he said.
"Adopting Hindi as the official language is a kind of conspiracy to weaken the local language. Maithili and Bhojpuri will be undermined that way. These two languages are spoken by over 90 percent people here. And children of both these communities are well versed in the Nepali language. So, Nepali is the best option for the official language," Mandal said.
Meanwhile, parliamentary party leader of RJPN, Jitendra Sonal did not like to comment on the debate stating that there has not been a formal discussion over the issue. "After the historic elections, the major challenge now is to tread on the path of development and prosperity. We should not waste time debating much on language," he said.
Sonal is also the general secretary of RJPN and Physical Infrastructure Development Minister of the province. He had taken the oath of office in the Hindi langue for the minstrel post.
Meanwhile, Professor Bhogendra Jha stated that 'Hindi should be respected' but not made the official language of the province. "It is not good for any group to stand against the Hindi language. But how fair is it to destroy the local languages by adopting Hindi as the official language? So, the struggle for identity is still not over even after the elections. Things such as national unity and our identity cannot be undermined," he noted.
Among the 107 provincial assembly members, 47 had taken the oath of office in Maithili, 25 in Bhojpuri, 24 in Nepali and 11 in the Hindi language.