The State Assembly on Wednesday passed the Assam Official Language Amendment Bill and declared Bodo as an associate official language of the state.

The bill was introduced on the floor of the Assembly on December 28, 2020 by Assam parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on behalf of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The Assam Cabinet in its meeting on December 22, chaired by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, approved the Assam Official Language Amendment Bill for making Bodo an associate official language of the state.

Also read: Assam: Bill to make Bodo associate official language introduced in Assembly

Congress MLA from North Karimganj constituency, Kamalakhya Dey, moved a proposal seeking an amendment to the bill.

Dey demanded that the bill be amended and besides Bodo, the Bengali language should also be declared as an associate official language across Assam.

He said while the Bodo language is spoken by only 14 lakh people while the Bengali language is spoken by 90 lakh people across Assam.

So, the Bengali language should be declared as an associate official language of Assam, Dey said.

Participating in the debate over the demand from Congress MLA Dey, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Bengali is an established and well-recognised Indian language, spoken by a large number of people in the country.

He said there is no need to recognize Bengali as an official language in Assam as it is already an official language in the Barak Valley.

Later, Congress leader and Opposition Leader of the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia announced the withdrawal of the proposal seeking an amendment to the bill by the party MLA.

During the debate, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Aminul Islam demanded that the Assamese language be declared as the link language of Assam.

Regarding Islam’s demand, minister Patowary said according to the Assam Official Language Act 1960, Assamese is already a link language in Assam.

The salient feature of the Bill is to substitute the Section 5A of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960, to implement Clause 6.2 of the MoS (memorandum of settlement) signed on January 29, 2020 with Bodo groups.

“Proposed amendment will allow Bodo language in Devanagari script as an Associate Official Language for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Assam. Therefore, the Bill proposes to substitute Section 5A of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960,” as per the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.

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