Submitting to pressure, especially from members from Tamil Nadu, the Union Government assured the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that exams held in the state on Sunday for recruitment on certain posts in the postal department will be canceled and fresh exams will be held soon.
The government’s statement came after members of several parties — predominantly from the AIADMK and DMK — disrupted the proceedings, demanding the exams be scrapped as candidates could only choose to take the exam in English or Hindi.
When Rajya Sabha commenced work on Tuesday morning, members of DMK and AIADMK started shouting slogans from their seats, demanding the cancellation of the exams. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked for order in the House, asking AIADMK leader V Maitreyan to not shout from his seat. Naidu stopped the live broadcast of the proceedings before adjourning the House till noon.
During the adjourned period, BJP leaders including the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan approached the AIADMK leaders to find a solution, but to no avail.
As soon as the House resumed, some of the protesting members stormed to the well of the House. Deputy Chairman Harivansh tried to continue with the day’s business, but the disrupting members did not yield and Maitreyan tore pieces of paper and flung them into the air, and demanded a statement from Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — who was making a statement in the Lok Sabha — on Tuesday itself. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad intervened and asked for the House to be adjourned, which was done for 15 minutes by Harivansh.
The same scenes were repeated twice. Finally, after the House resumed at 2.30 pm after four adjournments, Prasad came to the Upper House and said he has “examined the matter today itself and it has now been decided to cancel the examination held on July 14”. He said, “The examination will now be held in all regional languages, as per a notification dated May 5, 2019 of the department concerning the examination, including in Tamil.”
Prasad said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has “respect for all the regional languages, including Tamil”, adding that the government’s “commitment to respect all languages is full and total”.
Congress member Anand Sharma said, “We are very happy that the minister has made this statement to resolve a very challenging situation that had resulted from these examinations that were held. The larger issue is to pre-empt and ensure that there is no recurrence.”
DMK leader T K S Elangovan later told The Indian Express, “These exams were held only in Hindi and English and not in Tamil… These are all small posts (and) local people will aspire to come… When exams are not held in regional languages, they (the people) will suffer.”
He added, “The country is united because every language is respected… There should be mutual respect among the people speaking various languages. But if they are thrusting a particular language on us, then that mutual respect will break…”
Maitreyan told The Indian Express that the exams for postal services have always been conducted in regional languages along with Hindi and English, but it was changed on July 11 when it was announced that the exams will be conducted only in Hindi and English on July 14. “Along with Hindi and English, all the regional Indian languages are also national languages,” he said.