New Delhi: Bowing to the political pressure, the government on Friday put on hold the recently issued controversial notification of the UPSC which gave more weightage to English in the civil services exams. The announcement was made in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy after an impromptu debate on the issue following repeated uproar and three adjournments with members demanding immediate revocation of the March 5 notification.
As members sought punishment for officials responsible for issuing the "unconstitutional" circular, Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav went to the extent of demanding the sacking and impeachment of the chief of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad and his party colleague Raghuvansh Prasad Singh were prominent among those who stormed the Well twice along with a host of Samajwadi Party members, raising slogans against the notification.
After the hour-long debate, Narayanasamy said the government has taken note of the views expressed by the members on the notification of the UPSC. "Government will call a meeting of the UPSC to discuss and resolve the issue. In the meanwhile, we will keep the notification in abeyance. Status quo ante will be maintained," Narayanasamy said.
Lalu Prasad dubbed the UPSC move as a "conspiracy" against weaker sections so as to ensure that children from SC, ST and OBC background do not succeed in the civil services examinations despite having the required merit.
Seeking a rollback of the decision, he said the UPSC may be a constitutional body but it was not above the government and Parliament.
Earlier, the Question Hour was washed out with slogan-shouting members of the SP, the RJD, the Left, the Akali Dal, the National Conference, the AIADMK and the DMK, either trooping into the Well or coming to the aisle. They raised slogans like 'Angrezi me kaam na hoga, Phir se desh ghulaam na hoga' (There will be no work in English. The country will not be a slave again), 'Angrezi hatao, desh bachao' (remove English, save the nation) and 'UPSC ka galat nirnay, wapas lo, wapas lo' (withdraw the wrong UPSC decision). Gopinath Munde (BJP) the move was an "injustice" to Indian languages and the backward classes.
V Arunkumar of the Congress made it clear that the changes brought about were not in the interests of anyone. "It is wrong to show that only English-speaking people are better," he said citing the example of K Kamraj who was consulted by Pandit Nehru whenever a crisis arose, despite the fact that the Congress veteran only spoke Tamil.
Samajwadi Party's Dharmendra Yadav termed the move as "anti-national" and said the decision would have grave implications for a majority of candidates in the civil services exams as the essay paper of 200 marks had been added to the 100-mark compulsory English paper. Sharad Yadav alleged that since a new head took over the UPSC, he has been continuously making attempts to "marginalise" the Indian languages and promote English. "If he fails to take back this step, he should be sacked and impeached," he said.
TKS Elangovan of the DMK asked "who authorised the UPSC to take such a step in the midst of the civil services exams. Who gave it the right to do so?" Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) said the hard-earned constitutional rights favouring Indian languages were being snatched away by this order. Recalling the imposition of Hindi in the early 1960s had led to a situation of a virtual division of the country, Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) described the UPSC circular as a "discriminatory" move.
He said while English should continue as a link language, all regional languages should be allowed without promoting just "one North Indian cow-belt language". AIADMK's M Thambidurai said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had written to the Prime Minister on the issue and termed the UPSC move as "highly discriminatory".
NCP MP Sanjeev Naik and RSP MP Prasanta Kumar Majumdar demanded immediate withdrawal of the UPSC circular, while Tarun Mandal (Ind) said the decision was wrong and asked the government to promote all languages and not just Hindi and English. Earlier, the SP and the RJD had given a notice for adjournment of the Question Hour seeking a discussion on the new changes in the UPSC examination pattern.
(With additional information from PTI)