All major political parities in Tamil Nadu, including two BJP allies, Friday came out strongly against the government order to use Hindi in social media, branding it "Hindi imposition".
A day after the DMK cried foul, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the home ministry directive "makes the use of Hindi mandatory and English optional" and so can't be accepted.
The home ministry has ordered that officials should now use only Hindi or Hindi and English with the former getting prominence on social media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
Citing the Official Languages Rules of 1976, Jayalalithaa said communications from a central government office to a state or to any office or person in states in "Region C" shall be in English.
"Social media are not only accessible to all persons on the internet but meant to be a means of communication to persons in all parts of India including those in Region C," she said in an open letter to Modi.
Region A refers to Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as well as Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands; Region B refers to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab as well as Chandigarh, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Region C refers to all other states.
According to Jayalalithaa, people located in Region C will not have access to public information if it is not in English.
"This move would therefore be against the letter and spirit of the Official Languages Act.
As you are aware, this is a highly sensitive issue and causes disquiet to the people of Tamil Nadu who are very proud of and passionate about their linguistic heritage," she said.
Referring to a memorandum presented by her to Modi this month, she said: "I had also raised the long pending demand of the people of Tamil Nadu to make the ancient Tamil language an official language of India.
"I had also urged that all the languages included in the VIII Schedule of the constitution be declared as official languages of India. "If this request is fulfilled, the use of all official languages on social media can be encouraged."
Meanwhile, two constituents of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) -- the PMK and the MDMK -- have opposed the move on Hindi.
PMK founder S. Ramadoss urged the central government to declare all 22 languages listed in the 8th schedule of the constitution as official languages and put an end to the issue of "Hindi imposition".
He also cited the BJP's election manifesto which stated that steps would be taken to develop all Indian languages.
Expressing shock over the Hindi directive, MDMK leader Vaiko said it was worrisome since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using the social media to register his views. Vaiko said the language issue was a very emotional one for the people of Tamil Nadu.
He said all the Indian regional languages should be declared as official languages and English should continue till that happens. DMK president M. Karunanidhi was the first to voice his opposition on the issue.
Karunanidhi said Thursday that giving prominence to Hindi alone without treating all the languages in the eight schedule of the constitution equally was the first step in making non-Hindi speaking people second class citizens.