MUMBAI: The Maharashtra legislative assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recommending to the Centre to accord Marathi the status of a "classical language".
The resolution was moved by Minister for Marathi language Subhash Desai.
The one-line resolution asked the Centre to take a decision to declare Marathi as a "classical language".
Speaking on the issue, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said Marathi was an ancient language, older than even Sanskrit.
All political parties in the state should step up efforts to persuade the Centre to accord classical language status to Marathi, he said.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan (Congress) said it was during his tenure that a committee was set up on the issue under the chairmanship of litterateur Rangnath Pathare who gave a 500-page report on classical language status for Marathi.
"We forwarded the report to the Centre in July 2013. But then there was a change in government (at the Centre in May 2014).
In the last few years, efforts to get classical status for the Marathi language have not yielded result. At the same, five languages have been declared as classical," he said.
Chavan felt there was need to set up a committee of litterateursand experts for follow-up action on the issue.
Ashish Shelar (BJP) said the Marathi language was 1,500 to 2,000 years old and there was proof for back this claim.
Ravindra Waikar (Shiv Sena) wondered if there was no political will in the state to take up the matter with the Centre.
Members also demanded that an all-party delegation go to Delhi for follow-up action with the Centre.
They lamented that despite Marathi fulfilling all criteria of a classical language, it had not been accorded the status so far.
The resolution coincided with `Marathi Bhasha Din' (Marathi language day) which is celebrated on February 27, the birth anniversary of Jnanpith award winning poet the late V V Shirwadkar.
As of now, six languages -- Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia -- have been given the status of classical languages.
The criteria adopted by the Centre to determine the eligibility of a language for classical status include its recorded history over a period of 1,500-2,000 years, body of ancient literature and whether its literary tradition is original, among other yardsticks.
In the past, the Centre has said a proposal for granting classical language status to Marathi was under active consideration of the Ministry of Culture.
Languages declared as classical are given certain benefits by the Human Resource and Development Ministry.
These include setting up centres for their study and international awards for their scholars.