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Rane wanted only Marathi as Off Language: Nirmala


Pratapsing Rane, as the Congress chief minister, wanted only Marathi to be Goa’s official language and not along with Konkani, disclosed Nirmala Sawant, former general secretary of the Congress in Goa.

The disclosure came at a marathon interview conducted by Konkani Bhasha Mandal to record oral history of official language agitation of 1985-86, as a part of Vijayabai Sarmalkar memorial activity.

Almost nine leaders of Konkani agitation participated in the interview, including then Goa Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro, Konkani Porjecho Avaz convenor Pundalik Naik, then students’ leader Prashant Naik, Adv Anacleto Viegas, N Shivdas, Hema Naik, RBS Komarpant and Prashanti Talpankar.

The official language act was finally passed on 4 February 1987, based on a bill moved by Rane on 17 July 1986, making Konkani the official language and using Marathi for official purposes.

Sawant, who was then the general secretary of the GPCC, said Rane was not in favour of the unanimous stand of the party organisation but wanted only Marathi.

“He never officially opposed Konkani but always created impression in favour of Marathi before the Congress high command, using his chief ministerial position”, she said.

How did he finally agree to the opposite position?

Well, the high command used some skeletons in the cupboard while the violent agitation opened the eyes of the high command to the ground realities, she said.

Sawant also disclosed that Chintamani Panigrahi, one of the central observers, had soft corner for Marathi, due to whom the word ‘shall’ was inserted last minute while giving advantage to Marathi, allowing it to be used for all the official purposes.

While stating that Konkani shall be the official language, the Official Language Act states that “Marathi… shall also be used for all or any of the official purposes…”



The 555-day long official language agitation actually started after Rane government rejected the private bill of Luizinho Faleiro, then sole MLA of Goa Congress, on 19 July 1985.

Faleiro said his fight for the official language had actually begun with the GPCC passing a resolution to make Konkani the sole official language in Goa, when he was in the Congress and Rane was the CM.

“But Rane changed his stand later when I went into opposition with Dr Wilfred de Souza forming the Goa Congress while Uday Bhembre was the independent, supporting my bill”, said Faleiro.

According to Sawant, the Congress was divided on the issue because a group led by Rane had joined the Congress from Marathi-supporting Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, while Konkani-supporting group from the United Goans Party had also joined the Congress in late ‘70s.


According to Pundalik Naik, the central leaders were not impressed with our huge rallies held from time to time to press for our demands, including the Mahamellavo of 14 November, when they camped for 10 days in Delhi to convince the Congress leaders about their demand.

He said: “Then union home minister Shankarrao Chavan in fact asked me; rallies are fine, but where is the issue?”

Their eyes opened only when the agitation took a violent turn and then President of India Zail Singh had to take shelter in a school class room to save himself from the black flag demonstration of the people.

Singh had come down to Goa on 19 December to celebrate silver jubilee of Goa’s liberation, which was boycotted with militant actions by the KPA.

Replying to a question, Naik said including Romi script along with Devanagari for Konkani never became a demand as the issue was amicably resolved among the leaders even before the draft of the bill was prepared.


Prashant Naik, then leader of the Progressive Students’ Union, narrated how they had organised road blockades on the night of 18 December, after the rally at Azad Maidan in Panaji, at 17 strategic locations all along the national highways.

These actions spread into more violent spontaneous actions even in the villages by sacrificing Christmas celebrations and tourism season, which included damaging houses of Congress MLAs supporting Rane camp and even blasting some bridges and culverts.

The PSU did not agree with KPA’s stand of outrightly opposing Marathi and had run a parallel agitation initially, demanding Associate Language status for Marathi to protect existence of Marathi in different fields.

Naik also said the PSU moved into organising communal harmony meetings when the whole agitation took communal turn into different parts of Goa.  

“We even moved from house to house to ease communal tension by mobilising students and youth”, he said. 

The four-hour long marathon interview, held in three sessions, was conducted by Sandesh Prabhudesai, editor of is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Total Comments :3

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Thanks the fascinating news to me.Till today my blood boil's regarding. Total betrayal by the politicians. Konkani is the state language n it should be for all purposes

Miguel , Mapuca

Nirmala Sawant and you fellows what did you all accomplish after all using all those divisive politics. Konkani is in tatters, your leaders have joined hands with Marathiwallas, there is no direction and progress on the Konkani language front. By playing divisive politics with Marathi you have only strengthen English in Goa.

JS , Harayana

'High command used some skeletons in the cupboard' said nirmala sawant.

Since d matter is of a CM being cornered, it was important to know d veracity of d 'skeletons'. Or it was a bravado statement by d speaker.

Kokni movement saw violence.... was it justified?!

Kokni movement, it is known through source, had a all time low - denigration of national flag

Naguesh Rao Sardessai , Panaji



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