Home Minister Amit Shah, whose ‘Hindi as unifier’ comments had triggered a backlash from the southern states, said he had never asked for imposing Hindi over the regional languages and it was up to others if they wanted to do politics over it. Shah said he only asked for learning Hindi as the second language since the country needed one such language, he was speaking at Hindustan Purvodaya 2019 in Ranchi, Jharkhand on Wednesday.
‘I myself come from a non-Hindi state of Gujarat, people should hear my speech properly, if they want to do politics, it is their choice, but my speech should be reheard to clear the confusion,’ Shah said responding to critics who had accused the home minister of promoting Hindi at the expense of the regional languages.
Almost all political parties in the southern states had vociferously opposed Shah’s suggestion to learn Hindi as a unifying language, including the BJP’s tallest leader in the south and Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who said his government would never compromise with the importance of Kannada.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu film star turned politician Kamal Haasan had jumped on the anti-Hindi bandwagon and said the debate over Hindi could become bigger than the ‘Jallikattu’ protest.
‘Unity in diversity is the promise we made when we made India a republic. Now no Shah, Sultan or Samrat should go back on their promise,’ Haasan said in a video shared on Twitter.
The BJP president, while responding to criticism over his previous comments, said that he has always advocated developing regional languages in order to retain cultural identities.
‘I have repeatedly said that the Indian languages should be strengthened and their necessity must be understood. A child will only do well if taught in its mother tongue, which is not necessarily Hindi. It can also be the regional language like Gujarati,’ Shah said, before adding that he had only requested for learning Hindi as a second language.
‘But there should be one language in the country, if you want to learn a second language then let it be Hindi, this was my request, I don’t understand why it was found offensive,’ Shah said.
The home minister said that there were examples of countries that had forgotten their native languages.
‘We will need a campaign to strengthen regional languages in the country otherwise we will end up like Australia and New Zealand who do not remember their original native language.’ Shah said.