While Hindi Divas on Wednesday saw protests by both Opposition parties and Kannada groups, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai informed the Legislative Assembly that a new law would be brought in to make Kannada “legally mandatory” and increase the use of the language.
Songs and placards
JD(S) MLAs staged a protest on the Vidhana Soudha premises against the move to celebrate Hindi Divas as a State-sponsored event, while Kannada groups such as Kannada Rakshana Vedike and Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha staged protests in the city. In the Legislative Council, Opposition leaders held placards and wore yellow and red stoles, to protest Hindi Divas. JD(S) members, including S.L. Bhoje Gowda, sang a few lines of ‘Barisu Kannada Dimdimava’ by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu.
In the Assembly, Mr. Bommai spoke of the new law while replying to JD(S) Floor Leader H.D. Kumaraswamy, who urged the State government not to celebrate Hindi Divas with the taxpayers’ money, saying it was tantamount to committing injustice to the State. The country is diverse and has many languages. Imposing the Central government-sponsored Hindi Divas in Karnataka would be a betrayal to Kannadigas by the ruling BJP, Mr. Kumaraswamy said.
Mr. Bommai said the new law envisages “increasing the use of Kannada” in all spheres. It would promote and develop as well as make use of Kannada mandatory in the State administration. The government recently issued a circular asking all department heads to use Kannada language in official functions of the State and Central governments.
“For the first time, we will bring a law to make Kannada legally mandatory. Till now we have been speaking about Kannada being mandatory. There are several committees and an authority as well. But, they do have a legal framework. We have decided to bring a law to protect Kannada and Kannadigas,” the Chief Minister said.
The Kannada language would be given priority in all activities. Under the National Education Policy, Karnataka would offer the engineering course in Kannada. Already one semester has been taught in the Kannada language in engineering colleges, Mr. Bommai said.
“India is a Union of States comprising several languages and cultures. Our government will not play politics when it comes to issues related to land, water, and language,” Mr. Bommai added.