Amid strong protests over centre's move to promote Hindi in social media, BJP today sought to douse the row, saying it is not being imposed on non-Hindi- speaking states and that Government respects all Indian languages.
The ruling party said it is not a crime to work in Hindi and sought to defend the government's move to promote the language, saying it seeks to bind the nation together and should not be construed as an "insult" to English.
"It is not a crime to work in Hindi. It is a national language. We have many national languages and every one has the right to work in a national language.
"Hindi is not being imposed on a non-Hindi state. What objection is there if we work in Hindi," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters here.
He said the party and government have said that they will work in Hindi and its use is not being imposed on any non- Hindi speaking state. "Our government respects all Indian languages," he said.
His party colleague and BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Hindi is the national language and is the heart of the country. Priority to Hindi cannot be (construed as) an insult to English. The government's initiative for according priority to Hindi and regional languages is a welcome step."
On the backfoot over the controversy, the government however, clarified that Hindi on social media is only for Hindi-speaking states and that Hindi is not being imposed on non Hindi-speaking states.
Naqvi said Hindi is a mixture of different regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayali, Gujarati, Bengali, Assameseand Urdu.
It was unfortunate that despite Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal nehru, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Ram Manohar Lohia's efforts to propagate Hindi to connect the people of different parts of the country, the previous governments have not taken enough steps to promote it, he said. "This time, the government is honestly doing everything to promote Hindi," he said.
"There is no conflict between Hindi and English. If somebody is opposing Hindi, it is not the right thing because they have to understand that Hindi and other regional languages have not got their proper right in the past," Naqvi said.
Congress today advised caution to the government in pushing ahead on the issue, saying this has resulted in a backlash in non-Hindi states especially Tamil Nadu.