Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Thursday declared that Urdu will be the second official language in the state, News18 reported. He told the state Assembly that there has been a long-standing demand to make Urdu an official language.

Muslims make up about 13% of Telanganas’s population.

“I am declaring today, not considering districts as a unit but the state as a unit...that Urdu will be considered...practised as the second official language,” Rao said.

He said every office in Telangana will have an Urdu-speaking officer, and that all competitive examinations in the state will be conducted in Urdu, as well, according to The New Indian Express.

After Rao announced the decision, Opposition parties – the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party – accused him of playing vote-bank politics and trying to woo Muslim voters with the 2019 Assembly elections in mind.

BJP Spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao said they condemn the move and demanded an explanation on how it would be applied practically. He claimed that only about 5% of the Muslims in Telangana could speak Urdu. “Chandrashekhar Rao is just pandering for Muslim votes,” he said, adding that the decision would only waste public money.

“People prefer English or Hindi, as it does value addition and helps them with jobs,” Krishna Sagar Rao told News18. “First, he announced a special IT corridor for Muslims, which was bizarre, and now this impractical move of making Urdu the second official language.”