Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu today called Hindi the national language (File photo)
- Naidu calls Hindi national language, says we are obsessed with English
- Opposition says Hindi, English only official languages in Constitution
- Regional parties have accused centre of imposing Hindi, centre denies
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu today called Hindi the "national language" earning him a sharp rebuke from the opposition and a fact check on social media. "Hindi is our national language, our identity and we should be proud of it," Mr Naidu said, adding that "it's very unfortunate that we are obsessed with English" which, according to him, was detrimental to the nation's progress.
Opposition leaders tore through the comments, pointing out that the Indian Constitution does not mark any language as "national". Under its Article 343, Hindi and English are assigned the status of official languages.
"When did we get a national language?" National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
Congress leader Shashi Throor tweeted:Mr Naidu's statement comes amid reservations by some regional parties who have accused the BJP-led coalition government of trying to 'impose' Hindi - a charge strongly rejected by the centre.
"It is unfortunate that everyone is bent upon learning English because it guarantees employment. Hence I want the nation to discuss, promote and learn our mother languages more and at the same time learn Hindi as well," Mr Naidu told reporters at an event in Ahmedabad.
Earlier in April, Venkaiah Naidu had defended a move by the parliamentary committee on official language proposing to make use of Hindi mandatory both in speech and writing for lawmakers and Union ministers, who could read and write the language. Mr Naidu had said that the central government was only 'promoting' not 'imposing' Hindi on anyone.
Parties like Karnataka's Janata Dal (Secular) and Tamil Nadu's DMK have criticised the centre for what they call 'imposing' the Hindi language in their states.