The use of the Hindi language for official work was dealt a second blow by the Nepal government on Thursday with most of the ruling parties saying that Vice President Paramananda Jha, who triggered a controversy by taking his oath of office in Hindi, should be sworn in again in the Nepali language.
Ahead of his five-day visit to India starting from Aug 18, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had on Thursday called a meeting of the 22 parties in the coalition government to discuss political developments.
Among the pressing items on the agenda was the controversial oath taken by the vice-president last year that made a nationalist lawyer challenge him in court, calling the oath unconstitutional.
Last month, Nepal's Supreme Court gave its verdict, upholding petitioner Bal Krishna Neupane's contention and ordering the vice-president to take the oath again in Nepali.
However, the directive was questioned by Jha, who alleged that the verdict was biased. The beleaguered vice-president also said that he would not be coerced into taking the oath again in Nepali.
Jha's outburst against the court resulted in a fresh contempt of court petition against him initiated by two men and the apex court Wednesday asked the government to explain why the vice president had yet not been re-administered oath of office in Nepali.
The oath dispute, which has once again pitted southern Nepal's Madhesi community against the rest of the nation, is likely to be resolved August 23.
If Jha refuses to take the oath in Nepali, he could be sacked. If he takes the oath again, his aides say his life would be in danger in the Terai plains where people would consider him to have abandoned the Terai cause.
While four Terai parties that are in the ruling coalition favour amending the constitution to include a new provision that will allow people to take the oath of office in the language they favour, most of the other parties are against it.
Though Hindi is widely understood and spoken in Nepal and Hindi films and songs are preferred to Nepali ones, yet during official use the language is frowned upon as it is identified as an Indian language.
The Terai parties are campaigning for the inclusion of Hindi as an official language in the new constitution that comes into effect next year; however, it is likely to be doomed with the major parties, including the Maoists, opposing it.