Once again, it was Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh who thundered in the parliament, and took the Centre to task for its failure to promote Urdu.
He castigated the centre for stopping advertisements to Urdu newspapers, a recent decision which has hit the Urdu media and has made it immensely difficult for the papers to survive.
Unfortunately, the Muslim MPs, particularly those who won on Congress ticket, didn’t raise the issue. It must be recalled that after successive Congress governments tried to bury the language, the Mulayam Singh-led SP government had given Urdu its rights in UP for the first time ever.
It was under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rule that Urdu translators were appointed in UP and strict directions were given to display Urdu signboards and nameplates in government offices.
Once again, it was the Samajwadi Party supremo who forcefully raised his voice for the language. After Mulayam Singh, Railway minister Mamata Bannerjee also supported him.
She said that West Bengal had nearly 30% Urdu speakers and there was dire need for a Urdu university in the state, apart from reservation for Muslims in jobs.
A surprise was BJP leader Gopinath Munde whose speech in favour of Urdu and his stress on promoting the language that is respresentative of India’s ganga-jamuni culture, put the Union government on backfoot.
Filmstar-turn-actor Shatrughan Sinha also raised the issue of injustice with Urdu. Farooq Abdullah and other leaders including communist Gurudas Das Gupta joined the debate.
In fact, the rare solidarity for the cause of Urdu and the manner in which politicians spoke in unison for the language, forced the government to admit that it was rare unity in the house.
When Speaker Meira Kumar urged the government to take cognizance of the concern of members, Pranab Mukherjee gave an elaborate response and assured that the issue of cutting newspaper advertisements would be sorted out.
Urdu India hopes that Urdu-speaking MPs and leaders whose mother tongue is Urdu, would raise the issue of injustice with the language in Uttar Pradesh where Urdu medium schools are not allowed to function as per an old and discriminatory state law implemented during the earlier Congress regimes.
While Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have thousands of Urdu medium schools, none exists in UP, which is the heart of Urdu language and culture.
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