Tamil Nadu may just witness a renewed anti-Hindi flare-up, with a number of regional parties objecting to the use of the language on signboards across the state.
Political groups such as the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) have threatened to launch an agitation if the Centre “continues erasing town names in English and replacing them with Hindi translations” on signboards installed across highways passing through Tamil Nadu.
PMK founder S Ramadoss on Thursday accused the Centre of inconveniencing the public by erasing town names written in English. While the altered signboards mention places in both Hindi and Tamil, they won’t help tourists and foreigners visiting the state, he said in a statement.
Town names on milestones dotting national highways passing through Dindivanam and Krishnagiri have been rescripted in Hindi, the political leader said, adding that this seemed to be in keeping with a policy decision taken at the central level.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko echoed Ramadoss’ sentiments, alleging that “some people” at the central level were trying to impose Hindi on the Tamil-speaking people yet again.
Vaiko said the names of places on milestones dotting NH-75 and NH-77 – besides highways along Chitoor and Vellore – have been changed from English to Hindi. This has been happening since last Friday, he added.
The MDMK leader said that while the Centre has so far respected Tamil sentiments, it now seems to have launched a campaign aimed at imposing Hindi on residents of the state. He warned the NDA government against undertaking any project of the sort.
Incidentally, both the MDMK and PMK were NDA allies at the Centre until a few years ago. They broke away in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.
Tamil Nadu had witnessed a massive anti-Hindi agitation in the late sixties, enabling the DMK to establish itself as a potent political force. The Congress lost power in the state in 1967 amid popular perception that it was trying to impose Hindi on the Tamil-speaking people.