Former Union minister P Chidambaram, a native of Tamil Nadu, has come out in support of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi, who had tweeted about an incident at an airport wherein she was asked about her citizenship and pointed to his own experiences.
Kanimozhi had alleged that a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officer had asked her if ‘she was an Indian’, after she told the official to speak in English as she did not know Hindi.
Kanimozhi’s Experience not Unusual: Chidambaram
"The unpleasant experience of DMK MP Kanimozhi at the Chennai airport is not unusual. I (too) have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens, who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations, and sometimes even face to face," Chidambaram said.
"While non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional spoken Hindi, why can't Hindi-speaking recruits to these posts learn functional spoken English?" the senior Congress leader asked.
HD Kumaraswamy Backs Her
Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy also came out in support of Kanimozhi. In a series of tweets, the Janata Dal (Secular) leader said that he stood in solidarity with the DMK MP.
"At the same time, I also condemn Hindi obsession, Hindi politics and Hindi superiority because of which many south Indians and south Indian leaders have lost opportunities. Many leaders in south India have lost out on being the prime minister because of Hindi politics. And that list includes people like Karunanidhi, Kamaraj and HD Deve Gowda as well. Because of this obsession, when Deve Gowda was the prime minister, he had been questioned and ridiculed many times," he said.
Kumaraswamy is the son of former prime minister Deve Gowda.
"When Deve Gowda was the prime minister, he was forced to make a speech in Hindi at the Red Fort. Keeping in mind the large number of farmers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Deve Gowda spoke in Hindi. But this is the level at which Hindi politics works in this country," he said.
He further added, "I have had a similar experience too. I am a two-time MP. The ruling class seems to ignore the speeches made in Kannada in Parliament. Also, I have seen Hindi supremacists closely. Politicians of non-Hindi states are non-existent for them."
Kumaraswamy pointed out that when it came to issues of employment, examinations of some of the posts in the Union government have to be written in English or Hindi.
"Apart from politics, for many govt. and public sector jobs, one has to write exams either in English or Hindi. #IBPSmosa is one of them. There is no place for Kannada in this year's notification. Kannadigas are being denied of opportunities for getting jobs. This must stop. Centre says Hindi is one of the languages. But it is spending crores of rupees in India and abroad organising programmes to popularise Hindi. This is one of the clandestine programmes. It is possible to fight this only with prompt love and respect for each one's language," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP has dismissed Kanimozhi's allegation as an 'electoral stunt'. BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh tweeted to counter Kanimozhi's charge, saying that "Assembly elections are 8 months away ... campaign starts".
(This article was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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