BJP rules out ‘imposing’ Hindi in Karnataka amid protests

Bengaluru, Sep 16 (IANS)
Accusing the Congress of politicizing the language issue, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled out imposing Hindi in Karnataka, an official said on Monday.
“There is no question of imposing Hindi in Karnataka or replacing Kannada or the other local languages in South India. The three-language policy will continue with primacy to Kannada, followed by English and any other local vernacular,” the BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudana told IANS here.
Protesting against Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s call on Saturday to have Hindi as the common or national language, the opposition Congress and the regional Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leaders and cadres staged demonstrations during the weekend in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi and Kalaburagi for attempting to impose Hindi at the cost of the state language Kannada.
“We are not against Hindi but certainly against its imposition on our people, majority of whose mother tongue is Kannada, followed by Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi across the state,” Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters at Mysuru on Sunday.
Celebrating September 14 as ‘Hindi Diwas’, Shah tweeted and reiterated at a function later in New Delhi that “India is a nation of many languages and every language has its own importance. But it is absolutely necessary to have one language for the country, which becomes India’s identity globally. If there is any one language that connect the entire nation in a common thread of unity, it is Hindi, which is spoken the maximum”.
Asserting that Shah’s message was for having Hindi as a common language among the people whose mother tongue is other than Hindi, Madhusudana said the message was to have a language spoken by the majority as a means of communication than imposing it or substituting it for one’s own language.
“Though English is pre-dominantly used as a link language between Hindi-speaking and non-Hindi speaking people across the country as a legacy of the British raj even 74 years after the Independence, a country of 130 crore people has no common language of their own to communicate as Sanskrit was once upon a time,” a linguistic expert told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Regional outfit, Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, leader Vatal Nagaraj and Karnataka Rakshna Vedike (protection forum) activists have threatened to launch a state-wide joint agitation if the Central government attempts to force Hindi on the people of the southern state.
“As Kannada is the native and official language of about 6 crore people across the state, how can Hindi be imposed or replace it, which is our mother tongue. It can, at best, be like any other language in the country as a second or third medium of interaction or exchange of information and views,” Nagaraj told reporters here.
When the state-run Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), a joint venture of the Central and state governments, tried to have all its sign boards only in English and Hindi over three years ago, vociferous protests by the city’s 10-million denizens, including thousands of its commuters forced its operator to replace all names in Hindi script (Devangari) in Kannada and warned it of disrupting its services if Hindi was used again or thrust on them.
JD-S leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said Kannada had the same status in the Constitution as Hindi or dozen other scheduled languages, which have their origins in Sanskrit, as the mother of all Indian languages.
“Imposing Hindi as a national language in the state will be against the spirit of federalism and arbitrary in place of Kannada, which the central government has declared as a classical language over a decade ago,” noted Kumarswamy, opposing Shah’s call.
The Congress state unit President Dinesh Gundu Rao said Shah should read history to know that India was a vast country of unity in diversity with plurality as its ethos.
“The BJP is trying to implement the sinister hidden agenda of its parent organization (RSS) through a sensitive medium such as the language issue to divide the people and polarize the country,” Rao tweeted in Kannada.

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