A day after Home Minister Amit Shah said that it was necessary to have a common language that becomes a mark of India's identity in the world, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayo Vijayan on Sunday came out all guns blazing, calling the idea "absurd".
In a Facebook post, Vijayan said the country was already seeing a widespread protest against the imposition of a common language, adding the move was a sign of Sangh Parivar opening a new battlefield in the name of language. "The idea that only Hindi can unite the country is wrong. There are people in the south and north-east who don't speak Hindi." Vijayan said.
The chief minister added that no Indian should be made to think that he doesn't belong here just because he can't speak or understand Hindi.
Even in a tweet, Vijayan targetted Shah's move, saying, "That language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union Minister's statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-Hindi speaking people."
Vijayan said very soon people will realise that these are mere tactics to divert their attention from bigger issues.
"Sangh Parivar must relinquish divisive policies. They must realize that people can see through the ploy; that this is an attempt to divert attention from the real problems," Vijayan said.
The claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd. That language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union Minister's statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-hindi speaking people.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) September 15, 2019
No Indian should feel alienated because of language. India's strength is its ability to embrace diversity. Sangh Parivar must relinquish divisive policies. They must realize that people can see through the ploy; that this is an attempt to divert attention from the real problems.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) September 15, 2019
Shah had on Saturday, on the occasion of Hindi Diwas, said: "India is a country of many different languages, and each language has its own significance, but it is necessary to have a common language that becomes the mark of India's identity globally.
"Today, if there is one language that has the ability to string the nation together in unity, it is the Hindi language which is the most widely spoken and understood the language in India," Shah tweeted.
Home Minister's statement drew flak from all quarters with many stressing that Hindi was among the 22 languages recognised by the Constitution and their stature is the same.
DMK chief M K Stalin said Shah's views were "shocking". "This will certainly infringe national integrity and hence he should withdraw his views immediately," he told reporters.
Leader of AIADMK, which is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, and Tamil Culture Minister K Pandiarajan warned of adverse reaction from other states as well.
"If the Centre imposes Hindi unilaterally, there will only be (adverse) reaction and no support, not only in Tamil Nadu but also in states like Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh," he said.
MDMK chief Vaiko, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader T T V Dhinakaran and PMK founder leader S Ramadoss too criticised the remarks and said Hindi must "not be imposed."
The Congress too cautioned against stirring up "emotive" issues "settled" by India's Constitution-makers after Shah, at an event on Hindi Divas, said that while diversity in languages is India's strength, a national language is needed so that foreign languages and cultures do not overpower the country's own.
(With inputs from PTI)