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Hindi row: Nepal VP defies deadline
KATHMANDU, Aug 30 (Agencies):
Published on 30 Aug. 2009 11:31 PM IST
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Nepal’s Vice-President Paramananda Jha declined to take “the easy way out” by renouncing the Hindi oath he had taken one year ago and take a fresh oath of office in Nepali at a ceremony called by the government at 4pm Sunday, opting instead to wage a protracted and difficult legal battle. Jha, who had been ordered by the Supreme Court to take his oath in Nepali by midnight Sunday or be relieved of his post, also refused to resign, choosing to go on indefinite leave and place the government in a dire constitutional crisis. “If the government and parliament pass the proposed constitutional amendment and respect all the languages spoken in Nepal, then I will consider taking the oath again,” the 65-year-old Lalu Prasad Yadav-look alike said as he walked into his office, a converted Rana palace, for the last time. The proposed amendment advocates that in future all presidents and vice-presidents will be allowed to take their oath of office and secrecy in their mother tongue instead of Nepali. Jha said he could have easily obeyed the apex court’s order, even though it was “unconstitutional”, and held on to his office. “But obeying such old, narrow and one-sided thinking would go against people’s aspiration for an inclusive, peaceful, beautiful and developed Nepal,” he said. Reiterating that the court verdict was biased and a blow to the fundamental rights that guaranteed there should be no distinction between citizens on the basis of language, Jha said an oath was about commitment to the people and state, not language. “Let Nepal be a real republic where there is no distinction on the basis of language, gender, caste or region,” he said in his three-page address to the media. “Let every Nepali’s effort to protect his language, culture, civilisation and self-respect come true.” Jha’s lawyers will now continue the battle in the Supreme Court and the Patan Appellate Court, where they have filed petitions asking for a review of the controversial verdict. While there was no immediate response from the government, the opposition, the Maoists, said the court verdict was shallow and smacked of a deeper conspiracy. “At a time the nation has been discussing the use of languages with a view to drafting the new constitution, the Supreme Court verdict, given in haste, has not satisfied anybody,” Maoist lawmaker and advocate Khimlal Devkota said during an interview to a private television channel. “We have been hearing rumours that there was a bid to impose President’s rule in Nepal. Perhaps the vice-president had opposed that and so it was decided to remove him.” The Hindi row that erupted last year has pitted the country’s Terai community against the hill people. While the latter say Jha should either take the oath in Nepali or resign, the plains people say he should stick to his guns. The Terai parties that helped him win the vice-presidential election last year have called protests in the plains and the issue, it is feared, will snowball in the days to come.

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