A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rich praise for Tamil, DMK chief MK Stalin on Tuesday welcomed his comments and demanded that Tamil be declared as one of the central government's official languages. Mr Stalin, the leader of the opposition in assembly, said his party wholeheartedly welcomed the prime minister's statement on Tamil's antiquity.
Tamil echoes across the United States, PM Modi said in Chennai on Monday, adding to references to the language that he made while speaking while about the nation's linguistic diversity during his speeches in the past week. The comments by PM Modi, who made his first visit to Tamil Nadu since his BJP returned to power for a second term in May, came after Home Minister Amit Shah's controversial remark about Hindi becoming a common language.
The Prime Minister's remarks were a joy not only for Tamils in the state but across the world, MK Stalin said. As a first step towards bestowing official language status to all 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule to the constitution, Tamil should be made one of the official languages of India considering its antiquity over and above the rest of the languages, he said.
The DMK chief also called for Tamil to be recognised as the court language in the Madras High Court.
According to the constitution and the Official Languages Act, Hindi and English are the official languages of India.
Tamil had the status of one of the official languages in a couple of foreign countries, while it is not so in India, its place of birth, MK Stalin said.
Tamil is one of the official languages in Singapore and Sri Lanka and is spoken in nations including Malaysia and South Africa by people of Tamil origin.
Referring to PM Modi's praise for Chennai's hospitality and food items like idli, dosa and vada, Mr Stalin said: "Tamils are renowned not only for hospitality, but also for their sense of gratitude."
PM Modi's repeated references to India's linguistic diversity and his presence in South India, where the imposition of non-regional languages has long been an emotive issue, are being seen by many as attempts to reduce tensions between South Indian states and the centre, following a furious reaction to Home Minister Amit Shah's tweet on September 14.
Only days before the PM was to leave for the US, Mr Shah's appeal to unify India, made on the occasion of Hindi Diwas, with Hindi drew sharp reactions from regional leaders who saw it as an attempt to impose the language on non-Hindi speaking states.
(With inputs from PTI)