- Kamal Haasan warns centre against starting a language war with Tamil Nadu
- Says "battle for our language will be bigger" than 2017 Jallikatu protest
- Amit Shah tweet on Hindi as common language for India sparks controversy
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan today joined a growing chorus of voices against Amit Shah after the Home Minister's comments on Saturday about Hindi becoming a unifying language. In a video posted on his Twitter account, the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief asked the centre not to renege on promises made to states when India was made a republic and warned the Narendra Modi government of a language war that "India or Tamil Nadu doesn't need or deserve". He highlighted his point during a press conference, telling reporters, "Tamil is our pride. We won't give it up".
Kamal Haasan, who was similarly candid in July after a draft of the National Education Policy required school children in southern states to learn Hindi, also declared that Tamil Nadu would fight harder than it did in the 2017 Jallikattu protests.
"Unity in diversity is a promise we made when India became a republic. Now no Shah, Sultan or Samrat should renege on that promises. Jallikatu was just a protest... the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger. India or Tamil Nadu doesn't need or deserve such a battle," Kamal Haasan said in his video.
"Most of the nation happily sings the national anthem happily in Bengali. The reason is the poet who wrote it gave respect to all languages and cultures, and hence it became our anthem. So don't make an inclusive India into an exclusive one," the MNM leader said, warning the centre that "all will suffer due to this short-sighted folly".
"Years ago we said it and we would like to reiterate Tamil is our pride. We won't give it up. We are ready to accept numerous languages but imposing this (Hindi) is the one we oppose," he declared.
Amit Shah's statements on Hindi becoming a unifying language for all Indians has been seen by many as an attempt by the centre to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issued a scathing response to Mr Shah's statement, describing it as part of the "Sangh Parivar's signs to launch a new battlefield in the name of language" and saying non-Hindi speaking people would be made second-class citizens.
MK Stalin, DMK chief and Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu, was equally assertive that Hindi could not be imposed on southern states. "This is India, not Hindia," he said on Saturday, following up on comments made in June when he warned the centre of a "language war".
In Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK and the PMK, both allies of Mr Shah's BJP, have opposed the Home Minister's idea.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tweeted in Kannada after Mr Shah's comments and said no language could be imposed over another.
Tamil Nadu has long opposed the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states; the issue is an emotive one in the southern state, which saw anti-Hindi protests from 1937 to 1940 and in 1965.