Union Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah’s tweet on Hindi Divas, saying Hindi was the only language that can unify the country, drew widespread condemnation in the State.
The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and other Kannada organisations held a protest rally here on Saturday, while the Opposition parties Congress and Janata Dal (S) condemned it. The Kannada activists observed Saturday as “black day” with #StopHindiImposition trending on Twitter. State BJP leaders were silent on the subject through the day.
Mr. Shah, to whom Rajbhasha Ayog that strives to promote Hindi also reports, took to Twitter and said while India was a land of multiple languages and every language has its importance, there is a need for a common language across the country, which becomes the identity of the country. “If there is one language that can unify the entire country, it is Hindi, that is spoken by a majority of people across the country,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Mr. Shah’s tweet soon drew criticism from Tamil Nadu and other language activists across the countryvarious States, including in Karnataka. This is not the first time the BJP has run into trouble for championing Hindi in the State. Union Ministers from the State had waded into troubled waters by defending Hindi signboards in Namma Metro stations in the city in 2017.
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 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 Karnataka Congress took an aggressive stand and tweeted: “Amit Shah should brush up his history knowledge. India is a country of unity in diversity and has never banked on one language for its existence. BJP agenda is implementation of sinister hidden agenda of RSS to divide our country by inciting people on grounds of religion and language.”
Kannada writer and former chairman of the Kannada Development Authority S.G. Siddaramaiah said the BJP’s idea of India always tilted towards homogeneity both in language and religion, “Hindi and Hindu.” “We need to remind them that ours is a diverse land and any imposition is nothing short of aggression,” he said.
Mr. Siddaramaiah suggested that Hindi Divas be observed in only Hindi-speaking States and not across the country. “Let us all celebrate February 21, which is declared as the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO, instead of Hindi Divas,” he said.