New Delhi [India], Sept 16 (ANI): The row over remarks of Home Minister Amit Shah to culturally unify India with Hindi as its national language continued on Monday with the DMK announcing a state-wide protest in Tamil Nadu on September 20 against the "imposition" of Hindi.
BJP's only Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa in the south said that all official languages of the country were equal and people in Karnataka will never compromise with the importance of Kannada.
While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi listed all 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of Constitution besides English and put a small Tricolour with each of them saying India's many languages were not her weakness, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju hit out at the main opposition party.
Rijiju tweeted a video of former Home Minister P Chidambaram in which the Congress leader urged the people to work with dedication to make 'Raj Bhasha' Hindi as the 'language of the entire country.'
"This video is only for Congress leaders. The Official Languages Act, 1963 and 'Hindi Diwas' started under Congress Govt. Now, what's the problem with Congress party? Let's respect all the languages of India and also accept Hindi as a unifying language of India," said Rijiju, who is Youth Affairs and Sports Minister.
In his tweet, Yediyurappa said that Kannada is the principal language of Karnataka and people were committed to promoting it as well as the 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 promoting Kannada and our state's culture," he said.
Yeddyurappa's remarks come in the backdrop of statements of Congress leaders who have slammed Shah. Congress leader Siddaramaiah has urged "pro-Kannada" organisations to raise their voice.
Actor-turned-politician and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Hassan said the imposition of Hindi on Tamil Nadu will lead to a battle that would be bigger than the 'Jallikattu'.
He said the unity in diversity was the promise "we made when we made India into a republic." "Now no Shah, Sultan or Samrat should go back on their promise. We respect all languages but our mother language will always be Tamil," said Hassan in a short video he shared on his Twitter handle.
"Jallikattu was just a protest. The battle for our language will be exponentially bigger than that. India or Tamil Nadu does not need or deserve such a battle," he said.
DMK president M K Stalin told the media after a meeting of party leaders in Chennai that the party will protest in all Tamil Nadu district headquarters on September 20 from 10 am against the "imposition" of Hindi.
Asked whether allies would be associated with the protest, he said this would be the first stage of the protest and like-minded parties would be consulted in the next stage depending on what the Centre says and does.
Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, who is also a senior BJP leader from Karnataka, said that Hindi was a "unifying" language but nobody is saying that it will boss over the regional languages.
Speaking to ANI, Gowda said: "Hindi is a unifying language. It does not mean it will boss over other regional languages of the country. The three languages formula is accepted by us all. Even the Prime Minister spoke on the floor of the House in the last session that all regional languages will be respected."
He said Shah's remarks were made for an audience at an event in honour of the Hindi language and added that he would have said something on similar lines for Kannada, had it been an event held in honour of the language.
Rahul Gandhi in his tweet listed Oriya, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, English, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi, Konkani, Malayalam, Telugu, Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Santhali and Manipuri.
While English is not part of the Eighth Schedule of Constitution, there have been demands for its inclusion.
The Official Languages Act, 1963 refers to the continuation of English for official purposes of the union and for use in Parliament. In an earlier tweet, Rijiju had included a short video of Chidambaram's remarks at an official function and asked Congress to convey the stance to its allies.
"The stand of Congress on the Hindi language. Now tell your allies also," he said.
CPI-M leader Brinda Karat slammed Gowda for defending Shah and said it is the Home Minister who needs to clarify.
"There is an outrage against Home Minister Amit Shah for his statement on making Hindi a national language. BJP leaders especially those from the southern part of India are defending his position, but it is Amit shah who needs to clarify," Karat told ANI here.
"It is Amit shah who should come out and say we fully accept the three language formula. Shah should say that he withdraws the statement that he made. Why is Sadananda Gowda coming out and giving clarifications? This is the issue," Karat added.
Speaking as chief guest at a function to grace Hindi Divas on Saturday, Shah said that while unity in diversity is India's defining trait, a common language is needed as a culturally unifying factor.
He said that Hindi was heart and soul of freedom struggle and language of coexistence and its growth will never be at the cost of any other language. (ANI)