The Home Ministry's instruction - dated May 27 - has been aggressively opposed by M Karunanidhi, the chief of the DMK, who says the Prime Minister seems to have pushed the promotion of Hindi to the top of his agenda.
"The PM should focus on development rather than on promoting Hindi", the 89-year-old said in Chennai today. (Focus on Development, Not Hindi, Says DMK Chief to PM Modi)
He said the Home Ministry's decree amounts to "an attempt to treat non-Hindi speakers as second class citizens." Mr Karunanidhi's party failed to win a single one of Tamil Nadu's 39 parliamentary seats in the national election that swept the BJP to power.
Mr Karunanidhi appears to be over-reacting, suggested BJP leaders today. "We have to promote Hindi because it is our official language. That does not mean we are going to discourage the use of regional languages," said Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju, elected to parliament from Arunchal Pradesh, a non-Hindi-speaking state.
"Language battlefields have not yet dried. History has recorded anti-Hindi agitation," Mr Karunanidhi said, whose party won its first state election in Tamil Nadu because of the lead role it played in a violent resistance in 1965 to a move to make Hindi the official language across the country.
Riots tore through Tamil Nadu and calm was restored after Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri reiterated a commitment made by Jawaharlal Nehru that English would be used to communicate between the union government and non-Hindi-speaking states.
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