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Nepal vice president ends Hindi row with Maithili oath
Kathmandu, Feb 7 (IANS):
Published on 7 Feb. 2010 11:29 PM IST
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After festering for 18 months and deepening the rift between the hill and plains people, Nepal’s Hindi row Sunday came to an uneasy end with embattled Vice President Paramananda Jha re-taking his oath of office and secrecy in his mother tongue Maithili. The former judge, who was suspended by Nepal’s Supreme Court for taking his oath of office in 2008 in Hindi instead of the Nepali language, received a fresh lease of life as Nepal’s first vice president when he was administered the oath once again by President Ram Baran Yadav after vigorous lobbying by Nepal’s Terai parties. In an unprecedented event, while Yadav, a conformist, administered the oath in Nepali version, Jha took it in Maithili, a regional language spoken in the Terai plains as well as India, followed by the Nepali version. The beleaguered vice president also discarded the dhoti he had worn during his 2008 for the daura suruwal, the loose trousers and long shirt that is the traditional Nepali dress as well as a black traditional Nepali cap. The second oath-taking helps Nepal avert a constitutional crisis. The president will go to India on his first official visit since assuming office in 2008. The three-day visit starts from Feb 15. With the vice president’s post being suspended at the time the visit was announced, there was confusion as to who would officiate as the constitutional head of state in his absence. Jha triggered a nationwide debate and controversy in July 2008 when he took the oath as Nepal’s vice president in Hindi, a language identified by Nepalis with India, Nepal’s southern neighbour. Also, Jha, who comes from Saptari district in Nepal’s Madhes or Terai plains, also wore a dhoti during the swear-in, an apparel regarded as Indian, instead of the daura suruwal. An ultra-nationalist lawyer took the vice-president to court, asking for Jha to take the oath again in Nepali. But a defiant Jha refused, leading to the apex court eventually suspending him. The row also saw Jha’s private residence coming under three bomb attacks and the government removed his security guards as well as national flag. He was bailed out by the Madhesi parties which had helped him win the vice presidential election. Under pressure by them, the government amended the constitution for a record seventh time to enable the president, vice president and prime minister to take their oath of office in their mother languages. The swearing-in was also attended by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, the council of ministers and Chief Justice Anup Raj Sharma.

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