- Amit Shah's comments on Hindi as a "unifying language" had faced backlash
- He clarified he had only requested for Hindi as the "second language"
- If some people want to do politics, it is their choice, Amit Shah added
Amid a huge backlash over his comments on Hindi as a "unifying language", Home Minister Amit Shah said today that he had never asked for the imposition of Hindi over regional languages and added, "If some people want to do politics, it is their choice."
Amit Shah's comment earlier this week on Hindi becoming a unifying language for all Indians was read by many as a precursor to the government's bid to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states, reviving a decades-old debate.
"I never asked for imposing Hindi over other regional languages and had only requested for learning Hindi as the second language after one's mother tongue. I myself come from a non-Hindi state of Gujarat. If some people want to do politics, it's their choice," Amit Shah was quoted by news agency ANI as saying today.
On Saturday, the Home Minister had tweeted: "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."
The tweet provoked a storm, especially in southern states that have always been opposed to any suggestion that may seem like wider use of Hindi in the states and the language taking precedence over their regional tongue.
Among those who were at odds with Mr Shah's comment was the BJP's BS Yediyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka. Mr Yediyurappa tweeted that his government would not compromise on the importance of Kannada in the state. "As far as Karnataka is concerned, Kannada is the principal language. We will never compromise its importance," he had posted.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the claim that "Hindi unifies our country is absurd".
Amid similar protests from Tamil Nadu politicians, superstar Rajinikanth today said "no southern state would accept" any such move.
"A common language not just for India but any country is good for its unity and progress. Unfortunately, (one cannot) bring a common language in our country. So you cannot impose any language," Rajinikanth told reporters in Tamil at the Chennai airport.
"Especially, if you impose Hindi, not just Tamil Nadu, no southern state will accept that. Many states in northern parts will also not accept that," he added.