'Never meant to impose Hindi on regional languages,' says Amit Shah after outrage

After facing backlash for his stand that only Hindi can unite the nation, Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said he did not mean “imposing Hindi over other regional languages.”

Speaking at the Hindustan Purvoday Summit in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Amit Shah said, “I never asked for imposing Hindi over other regional languages and had only requested for learning Hindi as the second language after one’s mother tongue.”

“I myself come from a non-Hindi speaking state of Gujarat. Listen to what I said properly; if some people want to do politics, it’s their choice. I said this again and again that we need to strengthen Indian languages, and understand their necessity. A child can study well only if he studies in his mother tongue. By mother tongue, I don’t mean Hindi. State languages are also there, in my state of Gujarat also. But there should be one such language in the country… if you are learning a second language, learn Hindi. This is what I requested, what’s wrong in it?” he argued.

Shah also said that there should be an effort to strengthen Indian languages, lest we become a country like New Zealand, Australia and Africa, where people do not know what language they speak, he said. “We should strengthen regional languages, and also learn Hindi.”

On September 14, Amit Shah had declared on Twitter that Hindi is the only language that can unite India.  "There are several languages in India and they have their own value, but it is important for the nation to have one language that it is identified by in the world. If there is one language that can unite the country, it's Hindi,” he had tweeted.

Making these statements on the occasion of Hindi Diwas – the observance of which on September 14 had also been receiving opposition – he also urged citizens to increasingly use their mother tongues, and also the Hindi language more often; and in doing so, contribute to realising the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel of 'one nation, one language'.

In the aftermath of the same, many people slammed Shah on social media, including political leaders from the southern states including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Karnataka Chief Ministers HD Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah, DMK chief MK Stalin, MNM Chief Kamal Haasan, Asaduddin Owaisi and Kerala CPI(M) Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.