Amid the many voices that have spoken up against Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim that Hindi can “unite the country,” actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan warned the Centre in a video on Monday that trying to force Hindi on non-Hindi states like Tamil Nadu would have bad consequences.
Reminding people of the protests in Chennai after a Supreme Court order banning Jallikattu, Haasan said, “We respect all languages, but our mother language will always be Tamil. Jallikattu was just a protest, but the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger than that. India or Tamil Nadu doesn’t need or deserve such a battle.”
Haasan, who made the statement in a video he released on Twitter, said “No shah, sultan or samrat should renege” on the promise of unity in diversity when India was made into a republic.
Haasan then goes on to point out how most of the nation sings their national anthem in Bengali. He said, “The reason is, the poet who wrote the national anthem gave due respect to all language and culture in the national anthem.”
“Do not make an inclusive India into an exclusive one, all will suffer because of such short-sighted folly,” Haasan said.
Without naming the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre, Haasan tweeted, “Now you are constrained to prove to us that India will continue to be a free country. ”
Haasan’s statement comes amid widespread criticism on Shah’s remarks.
“India has many languages and every language has its importance. But it is absolutely necessary that the entire country should have one language that becomes India’s identity globally,” Shah had said in a series of tweets.
He had also said, “I want to appeal to people to promote their native languages but also use Hindi to make the dream of Bapu and Sardar Patel of one language come true.”
Most political parties from the southern Indian states rejected this idea. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said on Sunday that this was a bid to further the RSS agenda of divisive policies.
“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 realize that people can see through the ploy; that this is an attempt to divert attention from the real problems,” Vijayan had said.
In another tweet he said the move to inflict Hindi upon non Hindi speaking people was amounted to enslaving them.
DMK president M K Stalin on Sunday 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 in Chennai, Stalin said Tamil was sidelined in the competitive examination conducted by the railways and postal department.
After Home Minister Amit Shah’s pitch for Hindi as a common link language, the DMK chief had Saturday said that such a view was against national integrity and demanded that it be taken back.
“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.”
Leader of AIADMK, which is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, and Tamil Culture Minister K Pandiarajan warned of adverse reaction from other states as well.
“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,” he said.
AIADMK’s Pandiarajan said that the Tamil Nadu government has never toed the line that Hindi could be the link language.
“Only about 45 per cent people speak Hindi and even today it is not spoken by a majority of the people,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)