Taking potshots at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for his Hindi language pitch on Hindi Diwas, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA and regional media baron Soumya Ranjan Patnaik on Friday said his remarks can not be taken lightly.
“Why did Amit Shah suddenly think of this (one nation, one language)? He cites as reason that around 44 per cent of India use Hindi to communicate. Thinking democracy is a game of numbers and taking majority opinion as universal opinion, does not respect the fundamentals of democracy”, Patnaik wrote on the front page of Sambad, on the occasion of the Odia language newspaper’s 35th anniversary. “The idea of India is unity in diversity”, he wrote.
Patnaik also wrote, “The Home Minister’s remarks cannot be taken lightly. There is a considerable change in the attitude of BJP’s leadership after coming to power for the second time (in the Centre). In BJP’s first term, no minister spoke about the sensitive issues it had included in its manifesto.” “In the arrogance of numerical majority, after Hindi, will the topic of one nation one religion arise (from BJP)?” he added.
Reacting to Shah’s statement, senior BJD stalwarts including Prasanna Acharya had said “India is multi-lingual. There should be a Rashtrabhasa but other languages should be strengthened”.
“In India, leaders talking about unity are trying to tie up everyone under one premise in the name of nationalism. While celebrating Gandhi’s birthday, some are not hesitating to celebrate Gandhi’s killers. This is not just a dilemma but a critical danger to the idea of India”, the op-ed argues.
BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty on Saturday did not respond to The Indian Express request for comment on whether Patnaik had trespassed BJD’s strategy of criticising ‘one nation one language’ proposal without attacking BJP’s top leaders.
Patnaik is also the son-in-law of former Congress CM Janaki Patnaik. He had joined BJD in 2018 and was immediately given a Rajya Sabha seat. After a few months, as an Upper House member, he contested and won the Khanapada Assembly seat in May by a huge margin of 81,430 votes in the general assembly election. But, he was not given a cabinet minister position in the newly formed state government.
Patnaik also said, “Southern India has strongly opposed this (one language proposal). There is no such protests in Odisha. The state government has a new department, new rules for (the preservation and propagation of) Odia language. Penalties have been attached to the violation of these rules. Yet, the idea of imposing Hindi is not disturbing us.”
BJP Odisha unit on Saturday said the comments were “unfortunate”. “As an editor, he should know Amit Shah never used the term one nation one language but talked about preservation and propagation of Hindi. BJP has no link with Gandhi’s killers is a settled issue,” said Golak Mohapatra.