A controversial circular issued by the Railway Board, directing all its zones to use only English and Hindi for displaying names on trains, except in Tamil Nadu where Tamil too could be used, created a furore in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with members alleging discrimination against other regional languages.
After loud protests from members of several parties on the issue, which was raised by Brij Kishore Tripathy of BJD and supported by the BJP, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced withdrawal of the circular saying he respected all languages.However, in a turnaround a little later,he told the House he was not in a position to withdraw the directive as it was based on a law adopted by Parliament for applying the three-language formula in Tamil Nadu.
Raising the matter during zero hour, Tripathy demanded that the three-language formula principle should be followed all over the country instead of favouring only Tamil Nadu. As the protests continued , Speaker Somnath Chatterjee adjourned the House for a while.
When the House reassembled , Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi assured members that the government respected all regional languages without any discrimination and appropriate steps would be taken to rectify the situation.This was followed shortly be a withdrawal announcement from Lalu Prasad.
But later, when the Railway Minister reappeared in the Lok Sabha , he issued a clarification saying that the circular had been issued in accordance with an Act of Parliament.
“As it is based on a law adopted by Parliament for applying the three-language formula in Tamil Nadu, we have to support it...How the formula can be used to respect the languages of all states has to be decided because this is the law and I would not like to withdrw it,”Lalu stated.
He suggested to the Speaker that all parties should be consulted on the issue and a view be taken on it in the next session of Parliament.
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