THIRUVANANTHAPURAM – Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on Sunday, spoke out against Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement that Hindi should be India’s common and unifying language, and called the notion “absurd.”
“The claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd,” Mr. Vijayan said on Twitter. “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,” he said.
Mr. Vijayan also added that India’s strength was its ability to embrace diversity, and that no Indian should feel alienated because of language.
“Sangh Parivar must relinquish divisive policies. They must realize that people can see through the ploy; that this is an attempt to divert attention from the real problems,” he said in his tweet.
Mr. Shah’s statement has also come in for sharp criticism from political leaders in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and BJP’s own allies.
DMK president M.K. Stalin said making Hindi as the national language would make non-Hindi speaking people secondary citizens and undermine the unity. “DMK founder Anna said if a language spoken by more people should be the national language, then the ubiquitous crow, and not the peacock, should be the national bird,” Mr. Stalin said.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss, an ally of the BJP, said while Mr. Shah had the right to extol the greatness of Hindi, he could not impose the language on others. “Hindi can never be the identity of India as it will lead to depriving the right of languages such as Tamil,” he said.
The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and other Kannada organisations held a protest rally in Bengaluru on Saturday, while Opposition parties Congress and Janata Dal (S) condemned Mr. Shah’s statement. Kannada activists observed Saturday as a “black day.” State BJP leaders were silent on the subject through the day.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah tweeted that the “misinformation campaign that Hindi was our national language must stop and Hindi enjoyed the same status of Kannada in the Constitution. He said the opposition was not to Hindi, but to its imposition.
JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy argued along the same lines, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to when the Centre would celebrate Kannada Divas across the nation, as Kannada too enjoyed the same status as Hindi in the Constitution. “Remember that Kannadigas too are part of the federal structure,” he said.
The Home Minister had said that it is “very important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India globally”.
“India is a country of different languages and every language has its own importance but it is very important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India globally,” he had said on Twitter, writing in Hindi. “Today, if one language can do the work of uniting the country, then it is the most spoken language, Hindi,” he had said.