Union Home Minister Amit Shah's suggestion that "Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English and not to local languages" in communities that speak in vernacular has triggered a political storm, with many in the Opposition lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party leader for his controversial comment.
The statements were made by Shah at the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee in New Delhi on 7 April, when he mentioned that "the time has come to make the Official Language an important part of the unity of the country."
Reacting to Shah's remark, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that he had taken "strong offence" to the Union minister's suggestion, while adding that "Hindi is not our National Language & we will never let it to be."
Echoing Siddaramaiah, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that the Union Home Minister's statement would only erode the unity of India.
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking people to use Hindi instead of English is an act that will hurt the unity of India. The BJP continues to engage with its job of eroding the diversity of India," Chief Minister Stalin tweeted.
CM Stalin also warned the BJP of making the "same mistake" again.
At the meeting, Shah had said that Prime minister Narendra Modi had "decided that the medium of running the government is the Official Language and this will definitely increase the importance of Hindi."
He further added that "when citizens of States who speak other language, communicate with each other, it should be in the language of India... Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English and not to local languages."
Similarly, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh warned that "Hindi imperialism will be the death knell for India." Taking to Twitter, Ramesh alleged that the Union Home Minister was "doing a disservice to Hindi by imposing it."
The Trinamool Congress, too, has said that it would resist any imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states, reported NDTV.
Reacting to Shah's comment, party leader Sougata Roy said that even Jawaharlal Nehru – the first prime minister of India – had said that Hindi would not be imposed on non-Hindi speaking states.
(With inputs from NDTV)