Last week when Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was honoured at a function in Chandigarh for declaring Punjabi as a second language of the state, official circles were wondering what would happen to the Tamil language, which had so far been enjoying the status of second language in Haryana.
Even as there is practically no presence of Tamilians in the state, Haryana had declared Tamil as its second language in 1969 when Bansi Lal was the chief minister.
Officially Tamil had never enjoyed the status of a second language in this predominantly Hindi-speaking state, but the arrangement somehow carried on willy-nilly for more than 40 years.
Old-timers say the Tamil was declared as the second language just to give a rebuff to Punjab. “Since it was the Punjabi suba agitation that had led to formation of Haryana, Bansi Lal thought, ‘Let any language other than Punjabi be the second language of the state’. Hence, Tamil became the second language even though there might not have be even a single Tamil native family in the state at that point of time”, said a former bureaucrat.
Subsequently, though the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) announced the replacement of Tamil with Punjabi, nothing changed on the ground.
Hooda said here last month that a notification had been issued to accord Punjabi a second language status. Incidentally, the Congress menifesto had promised to take the step. The move might finally result in Tamil language being obliterated from the Haryana government records.
Hooda, keeping an eye on the Sikh vote bank, said his government would endeavour to popularise the language. Earlier, Hooda had announced to carve out a separate Sikh gurdwara management committee for the Sikhs in Haryana.
The Sikh population in Haryana is close to one crore, though the number of Punjabi-speaking population could be much higher.