Chennai: The Narendra Modi government's order asking officials to ensure their tweets and other social media posts are in Hindi has been met by stiff resistance across political parties in Tamil Nadu. Today, even PMK founder S Ramadoss, who is an ally of PM Modi's party, the BJP, publicly voiced his concern.
Mr Ramadoss said the "imposition of Hindi is unacceptable", and added "Declare all 22 languages under schedule 8 as official languages of India." PMK is one of the five parties the BJP allies with in Tamil Nadu.
Earlier today, Chief Minister J Jaylaalithaa wrote to the PM, asking for the urgent amendment of the government order to union government officials to post on social media in Hindi.
The new directive applies only for Hindi-speaking states, and says after a Hindi post an English version is optional. However, Ms Jayalalithaa says that communication via social media is important for people in all parts of the country and that Hindi posts will leave many bereft of "public information if it is not in English."
In her letter, Ms Jayalalithaa stressed that the emphasis on Hindi 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."
Yesterday, DMK chief M Karunanidhi had taken the lead in opposing the order, and said "The PM should focus on development rather than on promoting Hindi."
"No one can deny it's a beginning to impose Hindi against one's wish. This amounts to an attempt to treat non-Hindi speakers as second class citizens," Mr Karunanidhi had said, whose party had failed to win a single one of Tamil Nadu's 39 parliamentary seats in the national election that swept the BJP to power.
In an attempt to strike a note of reconciliation, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in an (English) tweet last evening, ""The Home Ministry is of the view that all Indian languages are important. The Ministry is committed to promote all languages of the country."
Anti-Hindi sentiment runs deep in Tamil Nadu.
Mr Karunanidhi's DMK won its first state election in Tamil Nadu in 1967 because of the lead role it played in a violent but successful resistance to a move to make Hindi the sole official language across the country.