Protests in Karnataka, T N as Amit Shah’s Language Appeal Miffs Southern States

New Delhi:: Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s appeal to unify India with the country’s most widely-spoken language, Hindi, was met with sharp criticism from the southern states on Saturday.
Veteran leaders such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin and former Karnataka chief ministers Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy came down heavily on Shah for pitching for his “one nation, one language” pitch on the occasion of Hindi Diwas.
Several pro-Kannada organisations, including Karnataka Ranadheera Pade, also held protest marches in Bengaluru against Hindi Diwas.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should issue a clarification on Amit shah’s statement. Else, the DMK will prepare itself for another language protest. Is it India or Hindi-a? India stands for unity in diversity. The BJP-led government is trying to destroy this and go against it. The home minister should withdraw his statement,” said Stalin.
Earlier in June, responding to the suggestion of a three-language formula for schools in Tamil Nadu, the DMK chief had said that “Hindi is not in the blood of the people of Tamil Nadu”.
“We have always stood against the imposition of Hindi and have raised our voices against the same in cases of exams like the railways and postal departments. We strongly condemn the home minister’s statement,” Stalin said on Saturday.
The DMK would take a decision on the ways and means to oppose Shah’s stand at a high-level party meet to be held on September 16, Stalin said. Pluralism is India’s biggest strength and unity in diversity is the nation’s cultural identity, Stalin said, claiming that the BJP government is taking steps to ‘erase’ such an identity since assuming office at the Centre.

Shah’s Hindi pitch appeared to be an attempt to make non-Hindi speaking people “second class citizens,” he added. While all languages in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule should be nurtured, picking only Hindi for promotion will impinge national integrity and it is both anguishing and condemnable, the DMK chief alleged.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader and Tamil Nadu Culture Minister K Pandiarajan said, “If the Centre imposes Hindi unilaterally, there will only be (adverse) reaction and no support, not only in Tamil Nadu but also in states like Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.”

“Only about 45% of the people speak Hindi and even today it is not spoken by a majority of the people,” he said, adding the Tamil Nadu government has never toed the line that Hindi could be the link language.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko said if India has to be a country of Hindi alone, then only Hindi-speaking states would be part of it and not several other regions like Tamil Nadu and the northeast.

Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) founder-leader S Ramadoss dubbed Shah’s remark as flawed and said Hindi must not be “imposed.”

The PMK and the BJP were part of the AIADMK alliance in Tamil Nadu for the recent Lok Sabha polls.

“Never can Hindi be India’s identity globally….is it not condemnable to try to usurp the identities of other languages to make Hindi India’s global identity,” Ramadoss said in a tweet.

because Hindi was spoken by a large number of people, it could not bring about integrity. “If Hindi is imposed on people speaking other languages, it will divide the country…there are several examples worldwide,” he said.

Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) leader TTV Dhinakaran said Shah’s views were not acceptable. Urging him to retract his comments, Dhinakaran said efforts to “thrust Hindi” would only sow the seeds of hatred among people.

Dravidar Kazhagam, the ideological fountainhead of Dravidian parties, said Shah’s views went against the pluralistic tenets of the Constitution. DK chief K Veeramani said the suspicion grew stronger that such views were being aired only to divert attention from the economic slowdown.

School Education Minister and veteran AIADMK leader KA Sengottaiyan said Chief Minister K Palaniswami had categorically stated only the two-language formula of Tamil and English would be followed in the state. It does not have central government-run Navodaya Vidyalaya schools to avoid ‘imposition’ of Hindi, he said.

Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said sticking to the two-language norm was the unanimous stand of his party and it would be continued. “This is our view. No language not liked by the people will be accepted,” he said, recalling the anti-Hindi agitations of 1965.

The Congress-led government, which “thrust Hindi,” was dislodged from power in 1967 state assembly elections and could not return to power in Tamil Nadu since then, he said.