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Goa minister supports RSS on issue of language

Panaji : The BJP in Goa is wrong to have attacked state RSS chief Subhash Velingkar for advocating that a regional language, rather than English, should be the medium of instruction in primary schools, said Minister Rajendra Arlekar on Tuesday.

“Subhash Velingkar is head of the (Rashtriya Swayamsevak) Sangh here and if he has to say such a thing, then we must also think where have we erred,” said Arlekar, who is Goa’s environment minister and belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Velingkar, the convenor of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Samiti (committee for protection of Indian languages), has accused the BJP-led coalition government in Goa of going back on its poll promise of using Marathi and Konkani as medium of instruction in primary schools, rather than English.

Velingkar demanded that BJP’s legislators should either support cancellation of government grants to schools where English is the medium of instruction or quit as members of the assembly.

Riled by Velingkar’s attack, the Goa unit of the BJP hit back.

BJP spokesperson Narendra Sawaikar accused Velingkar of being egoistic and demanded that the RSS chief join politics and contest an election before making such demands.

The BJP’s dilemma has to do with the support it got in the last election from the Christian community.

Catholic Church-backed Forum for Rights of Children to Education (FORCE) supports English as the language of instruction, which Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Samiti is opposing.

More than a quarter of the state’s population is Catholic Christians.

Velingkar has accused the Church of doing “dadagiri” (bullying) by “poking its nose in everything which fosters opposition to local culture”.

In the run-up to the 2012 state assembly polls, the BJP had supported the Samiti’s demand for regional languages as the preferred mode of instruction. After coming to power, however, it decided to back English language schools.

The BJP is, however, clearly divided on the issue, as is reflected in state Environment Minister Arlekar’s comments.

In being critical of Velingkar, the party had erred in its judgement, Arlekar asserted.

“What was said was maybe wrong. I have also erred because I am also a BJP worker,” Arlekar said, conceding that the BJP-led coalition government had failed to fulfil some poll promises made to the electorate in the first three years of its rule in the state.