Speaking on the recent controversy over Hindi, senior DMK leader and Rajya Sabha member TKS Elangovan said Hindi would reduce Tamils to the status of 'shudras' and claimed the Hindi-speaking states were not the developed ones while those with vernacular languages as mother tongue were doing well.
Elangovan said attempts are being made to "impose 'Manu dharma' through the imposition of Hindi". His remarks at a conference on the language imposition issue, organised by the Dravidar Kazhagam, have gone viral.
He further said, "What will Hindi do? Only make us shudras. It will do no benefit to us. 'Shudras' is the term used to denote the so-called last rung of society in the varna system.
Elangovan further pointed out at non-Hindi speaking West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat and asked if these states were developed or not.
He said, "Why I am asking is Hindi is not the mother tongue of people in these States. The undeveloped States are [the Hindi-speaking] Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and the newly created ones [apparently Uttarakhand]. Why should I learn Hindi?"
Allegations of Hindi imposition are sensitive in Tamil Nadu and the DMK had successfully used the issue to mobilise public support in the 1960s. The ruling party has of late been decrying attempts to 'impose' the language. Incidentally, the state government has even alleged that imposition of Hindi in the National Education Policy 2020 and has made it clear that Tamil Nadu would only follow its two language formula —Tamil and English— which has been in vogue in the State for decades.
Elangovan, who also opposed Union Home Minister Amit Shah's pitch for Hindi, was not immmediately available for comments.
He further said the Tamil pride is 2,000-years-old and that its culture always practised equality, including among genders.
He said, "They are trying to destroy the culture and trying to impose 'Manu Dharma' through Hindi. This should not be allowed. If we did, we will be slaves, 'shudras'."
He added unity in diversity has been identity of the country and all languages must be promoted for its progress.
Elangovan's remarks come weeks after Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy mocked people saying knowing Hindi would be helpful in jobs by saying that one should look at pani puri sellers in Coimbatore, who are predominantly Hindi-speaking vendors.
He said, "Many said you will get jobs if you learn Hindi. Is it so? Look here in Coimbatore, who is selling pani puri. It is them [Hindi-speaking individuals]. If a cat can go through a hole, can't a rat."
Asked if his comments on pani puri sellers amounted to "profiling", the senoir DMK leader said "not like that". "Most of them are working in pani puri shops," he said.
(With PTI inputs)