Amid a raging debate over Hindi as a common language for the country, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday asserted that Kannada was the primary language of the state and the government was committed to promote it and their culture in the state.
On Saturday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had pitched for Hindi as a common language for the country, reigniting the debate on the issue even as regional satraps in the south said they would oppose any attempt to “impose” the language.
Taking to Twitter, Yediyurappa said, “All official languages in our country are equal. However, as far as Karnataka is concerned, Kannada is the principal language. We will never compromise its importance and are committed to promote Kannada and our state’s culture.”
All official languages in our country are equal. However, as far as Karnataka is concerned, #Kannada is the principal language. We will never compromise its importance and are committed to promote Kannada and our state’s culture.
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) September 16, 2019
Speaking on the occasion of Hindi Diwas, Shah triggered a political row on Saturday, saying it was important that the country had one language reflecting its identity while asserting that only Hindi could unite the nation.
“It is a national responsibility that Hindi expands and prospers. Every language has its own importance. But it is absolutely essential that the entire country has one language that becomes the identity of the nation in the world. If there is any language that can tie the whole country in one thread, it is the most spoken language of Hindi,” Amit Shah had said.
The BJP leader’s statement drew a sharp reaction from opposition parties, particularly those in the South. Earlier in the day, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan protested against Hindi imposition, saying the battle for the Tamil language would be “exponentially bigger” than the Jallikattu protest.
No “Shah, Sultan or Samrat” can break the promise made to protect our culture and Identity, the Makkal Needhi Maiam leader said while reacting to the Home Minister’s pitch to make Hindi as India’s common and unifying language.
“Now you are constrained to prove to us that India will continue to be a free country. You must consult the people before you make a new law or a new scheme,” Haasan tweeted.
On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Hindi language was not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians and his claims that it unifies the country is absurd.
In West Bengal, the BJP is in a fix over Shah’s remark and fears it might dent the party’s increasing mass base in the state.
“Actually we can neither openly vouch for nor oppose it (Shah’s statement). If we support it then we will be branded anti-Bengalis and anti-Bengali language and this might have an adverse impact on our expansion in the state. Besides, opposing Amit Shahji’s statement is not possible for us,” a senior state BJP leader was quoted as saying by PTI.
Recollecting that the Bengali-non Bengali issue had cost BJP dear during the final phase of April-May Lok Sabha polls in the state, another senior party leader said it had drawn a blank in the nine seats that went to polls then.
“We won seats in Bengal in the first six phases But in the final seventh phase we failed to win even a single seat because of this Bengali and non-Bengali issue, which was milked by TMC post the vandalism of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue on May 14,” the BJP leader said.
(With PTI inputs)