Language dispute in Province 2 becomes serious

Published On: February 9, 2018 03:05 AM NPT By: Suresh Yadav

JANAKPURDHAM, Feb 8: With local youths not ready to accept the use of Hindi  by political leaders of Province 2 during the first provincial assembly meeting  Tuesday,  tensions have worsened. Even though the leaders have defended their use of Hindi, stating that it is the easiest  language medium for connecting the diverse communities in Madhes, the locals are not buying that argument. 

Civil society leaders and political analysts warn that this kind of controversy is very unfortunate for Madhes,  which has fought long and hard for its identity. The locals are not even ready to debate the matter. They only insist that a language other than Hindi  should have been used. The Maithali speaking community has been disheartened by their leaders prioritizing Hindi . 

“We burned the effigy of the leaders who took their oath in Hindi during the assembly meeting. There are many languages here and Maithli is well accepted as a common language. But, they intentionally tried to make it weak,” said Parameshwor Kapari, coordinator of the Mithila Rajya Struggle Committee. Kapari added that Mithila is the oldest and richest language not only of Madhes but of the entire country. 

“If they are trying to replace Maithali in this way, they are against the spirit of identity,” Kapari stated. “This kind of attitude is extremely sad,” he added. 

 Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum Nepal leader and now Chief Minister of the province Mohammad Lalbabu Raut had addressed the assembly in Hindi  on Sunday.  RJPN leader Jitendra Sonal did likewise. This  led to tensions in the town as locals took to the streets demanding that Maithali be prioritized over Hindi. 

“We were simply disheartened to see our leaders taking public sentiment so lightly. They have hurt the spirit of identity,” Kapari of the Mithila Rajya Struggle Committee further said. He added that the movement for rights and identity in Madhes is not going to conclude if leaders show that kind of attitude. “We are on a mission. We will fight till we  succeed. We want Maithali to be recognized as our common language,” he warned. 

According Prof. Bhogendra Jha of Tribhuvan University, the language controversy might get tricky. Some parliamentarians who speak Bhojpuri and Awadhi are not for Maithali, he said. “This kind of tug of war over language is not good. Fighting  will only weaken all the languages and communities,” he noted. 

As per the census of 2011,  Maithali is the most spoken language  in the country after Nepali. While the percentage of people who speak Hindi as their mother tongue is just 0.29, Maithali  is used by 11.67 percent as mother tongue. 

“We are not for promoting an imported language. We must protect our own language,” Kapari commented. 

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