Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has weighed in on BJP chief Amit Shah's tweet on Hindi Diwas on the necessity of having a common language in India. The Home Minister on Saturday tweeted a common language would become "the mark of India's identity globally".
Hindi Diwas is celebrated on September 14, marking the significance of the day when India's Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi as the official language.
On a Facebook post, the Kerala Chief Minister disagreed with Mr Shah on the choice of Hindi as a national language.
"Union Home Minister Amit Shah's Hindi agenda push despite nationwide protest needs to be seen as Sangh Parivar's signs to launch a new battlefield in the name of language. The perception that only Hindi can unite the country is completely wrong. People in the south and the north-east don't speak Hindi," Mr Vijayan wrote in Malayalam on Facebook.
"The claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd. That language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union Minister's statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-Hindi speaking people," Mr Vijayan also tweeted.
The claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd. That language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union Minister's statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-hindi speaking people.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) September 15, 2019
Mr Shah's tweet on Saturday had suggested at fulfilling the purpose of having Hindi as a national language. "India is a country of many different languages, and each language has its own significance, but it is necessary to have a common language that becomes the mark of India's identity globally... Today, if there is one language that has the ability to string the nation together in unity, it is the Hindi language which is the most widely-spoken and understood language in India," Mr Shah tweeted.
The opposition Congress and DMK chief MK Stalin have also criticised the BJP chief's remarks. The Congress said no attempt should be made to tinker with the "three-language formula" - commonly understood to comprise Hindi, English and a regional language of the respective states.
"Attempts to make Hindi their primary language is an attempt to disown their mother tongue... No Indian should feel that they do not belong here just because they don't understand Hindi. India has a national structure that accepts various languages. Sangh Parivar should retract from any attempts to hamper this. They must also realise that the people will understand such moves that are used to shift focus from important issues," the Kerala Chief Minister wrote.
Mr Stalin, from Tamil Nadu, which has a long history of opposition against what successive leaders have claimed was the centre's attempt to impose Hindi on them, said Mr Shah's "views threatening India's integrity are painful and condemnable."
"The DMK will not hesitate to unite states which stand to lose rights due to Hindi dominance," Mr Stalin said.
Hindi, which is written in the Devanagri script, is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the country. However, Hindi is one of the two official languages of the central government, the other being English.
While India has two official languages at the national level and 22 scheduled languages at the state level, the country does not have any national language. A national language is intended to give a patriotic and nationalistic identity, whereas official languages and scheduled languages are designated for communication at the official level.