Bengaluru: Union home minister and BJP president Amit Shah’s call to expand the reach of Hindi to all parts of India seems to have exposed historical linguistic faultlines with sharp political responses continuing to emanate from the southern states on Sunday.
DMK president M.K. Stalin and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed Mr Shah’s comments as a “war cry” against non-Hindi speaking people while Congress leader Jairam Ramesh maintained that “one-nation-one-language” can never become a reality in a country which celebrates linguistic diversity.
The BJP president had, on Saturday, said that “while India has many languages and every language has its own significance, it is important to have one language in the country that will become known in the world. Today, if there is one language that can unite the country in one thread, it is the most widely spoken language which is Hindi.”
Mr Ramesh said, “We may have one nation-one tax, but one nation-one language will never be a reality. We are one nation, we are many languages.” Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday had spoken of the need to make Hindi a common language for the country, immediately triggering a reaction from parties in the South which said they would oppose any attempt to impose the language.
Mr Ramesh was delivering the Sir M. Visvesvaraya memorial lecture on the subject, “A Prime Minister and an Engineer” at an event organised by the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry to commemorate the birth anniversary of its founder Visvesvaraya, who was also the Diwan of Mysore.
In Tamil Nadu, DMK president M.K. Stalin also accused the Centre of “autocratic imposition of Hindi” and underscored the need for unity in opposition ranks to take forward protest against the government on such issues.
Addressing an MDMK party event chaired by its leader Vaiko here, Stalin said Tamil was sidelined in the competitive examination conducted by the railways and postal department. “We have been compelled to go the protest mode everyday to get our rights;” he said and sarcastically added “even if we snooze they (the Centre) will thrust Hindi and ease out Tamil if went tired.”
Addressing the MDMK’s 111st birth anniversary celebrations of Dravidian ideologue C.N. Annadurai, he said since 1938, Tamil Nadu had been protesting against Hindi imposition and several such agitations continued through the years including those held in 1949 and 1953.
Such protests culminated in a massive agitation in 1965 and “has not the situation come to a pass necessitating protests even now?,” he asked.
“They are continuously imposing Hindi and we are opposing it all along,” he said and alleged “thrusting of Hindi is being carried on in an autocratic fashion (by the Centre) despite such opposition.”
Not only on the Hindi issue, but also on matters like National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test, Cauvery issue, projects on Methane, extraction of Hydrocarbon and Neutrino, Tamil Nadu was being betrayed, he claimed.
In New Delhi, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the agenda of the RSS is to impose Hindi as the national language. “All the languages listed in the 8th schedule of the Constitution are our national languages. Hindi can emerge as a language of communication but any effort to impose Hindi will only lead to a negative reaction as it happened in the past. All languages must be treated equally. The agenda of RSS is to impose Hindi as the national language. RSS ideology is one nation, one language, and one culture, which is not acceptable,” said Yechury while talking to a news agency.
In Kerala, the traditional rival political fronts — the ruling CPI-M led Left Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) — are on the same page in slamming Mr Shah’s call for one nation, one language.
Taking on Mr Shah was chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who tweeted on Sunday that no Indian should feel alienated because of language.
“India’s strength is its ability to embrace diversity. Sangh Parivar must relinquish divisive policies. They must realise that people can see through the ploy, that this is an attempt to divert attention from the real problems,” tweeted Vijayan and went on to point out, “the claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd. That language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union Minister’s statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-Hindi speaking people,” added Mr Vijayan.
Joining Vijayan was Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala who said this new thought will only help divide people and that’s the principle agenda of the Sangh parivar.
“The thumb rule in our country has been all the languages have the same status and Hindi has no special status at all. Shah wants to overrule all this and wants to go ahead with the secret agenda of dividing the people. The economy of our country is in doldrums and all this new love for Hindi is to divert attention from the real burning issues facing the country,” said Mr Chennithala.