Special Correspondent

Party announces plans to elicit more views from the people

  • The 1987 Act has made Konkani in Devanagari official language of the State
  • Marathi is used for all other official purposes

    PANAJI: Faced with a vertical division in its ranks too over the official language issue, the Congress on Monday decided to maintain a status quo over the Official Language Act but formally declared its plans to elicit more views from the people on it.

    The issue has surfaced following a proposal by the Congress Legislative Party last week to seek approval of the party high command to accommodate Marathi as well as Konkani in Roman script in the Act. The move to accord official status to Marathi immediately faced opposition from within the ruling coalition.

    However, at his formal briefing after the meeting of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) on Monday, party president Ravi Naik, in response to a question said, "The language imbroglio will be resolved by the Congress before the coming election." He said the GPCC members, Ministers and MLAs expressed diverse views over the Act, but no decision was taken.

    "The process of eliciting views of party workers will continue for some time and then these views will be conveyed to the high command for a decision," Mr. Naik said. He disclosed that he and Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane would go to Delhi this week and this would be one of the issues on which they would brief party president Sonia Gandhi and party functionaries.

    Party sources said that contrary to the original proposal of the legislature party suggesting amendment to the Act, which had become controversial, the GPCC meeting on Monday broadly favoured leaving the Act untouched. Instead, it asked the leadership to direct the Government to ensure that the protagonists of Roman script got all the benefits as enlisted in their charter of demand except the Act status.

    The 1987 Act has made Konkani in Devanagari official language of the State while Marathi is used for all official purposes.

    Mr. Naik said some members expressed themselves in favour of Marathi, some in favour of Roman script while many felt that the party would do well to convey to the legislature party and the Government not to take any hasty decisions over the sensitive issue without seeking the opinion of the party.

    Earlier, Konkani Ekvott, a body comprising several organisations working for Konkani, reiterated its demand that the Government should desist from amending the Act.

    Serafin Cota, convenor of Konkani Ekvott, accompanied by representatives of various organisations, told a press conference that "the promotion and preservation of Roman script along with cultural expression of the people using Roman script can be made by adopting suitable administrative measures without touching the Act."

    Sridhar Kamat of Goa Hitarakhan Manch said if the Act was touched to accommodate Roman script, "doors will be opened for Marathi."