Hindi call finds support, caution within Karnataka BJP

Hindi call finds support, caution within Karnataka BJP

Union Home Minister Amit Shah

BJP leaders from Karnataka seem divided on Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s call for Hindi to be India’s identity, while the Opposition Congress and the JD(S) tore into the saffron party on the "one nation, one language" idea. 

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told DH that Shah’s remark was based on the idea that Hindi has more speakers nationally. 

“It doesn’t mean that regional languages should be ignored. We have never said Hindi should be the only language, and we won’t say that either. Learning more languages, including Hindi, is good. Kannada, Tamil and all regional languages should be supported, but there’s nothing wrong in learning, and talking, Hindi,” Joshi argued. 

Joshi’s Cabinet colleague D V Sadananda Gowda concurred that India needed one language. “But Constitutionally, each language has its own identity, place and respect,” he said.  

Having swept the Lok Sabha polls by winning 25 out of the 28 seats in the state, the BJP MPs have vowed to protect Kannada and the interests of her patrons. But sources point out that Shah’s call for Hindi to be India’s language has put the state party unit in a tight spot. 

Only two voices within the BJP stood out— Primary & Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar and Kannada & Culture Minister CT Ravi, as they did not blindly endorse Shah’s views.

“We need to respect all the languages and Hindi language should not be forgotten and opposed. We shall learn Hindi but, it must not be imposed,” Kumar said while addressing Hindi teachers. 

Ravi said the saffron party will not do anything that will jeopardize regional languages.

“Our ideological mother, the RSS, has stressed on mother tongue and its use in education,” he said. “Kannada is Mother India's daughter, but some are trying to turn Kannada and Tamil against the nation. Such attempts have failed in the past,” he said, in a veiled attack on the Opposition.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who championed the Kannada cause when in power, opposed celebrating the 'Hindi Divas'.

“That Hindi is the national language is a lie. Like Kannada, Hindi is one of the 22 official languages of India,” he said tweeting in Kannada. “We aren’t opposed to the Hindi language, but its forceful imposition.” 

Another former chief minister, H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to celebrate ‘Kannada Divas’.

“Remember, the people of Karnataka are part of the federal system,” he tweeted.