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An old allergy resurfaces

india Updated: Apr 14, 2009 02:18 IST
Kuchi Venkat Lakshmana
Kuchi Venkat Lakshmana
Hindustan Times
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Back in 1990, soon after Mulayam Singh Yadav became chief minsiter of Uttar Pradesh for the first time, he launched a concerted campaign against English. When asked how people from different states of India would communicate if they did not have English as a common language, he said a link language would ultimately evolve.

Indeed, he promised this correspondent (whose mother tongue is Telugu) an interview in Telugu in six months’ time. No such interview materliased.

So much so good. But the truth is even today, the Samwajwadi Party chieftain would find it difficult to comprehend what a Chandrababu Naidu may be uttering in his mother tongue, which this correspondent would digest easily.

When Mulayam Singh promised to conduct his next interview with this correspondent was way back in August 1990, when he was spearheading an Angreji Hatao campaign, ably assisted by the then editor of PTI Bhasha, Dr Ved Pratap Vaidik.

If he has raked up the issue once again, and for good measure adding computers to his hate list, it is only for political purposes. If it comes to his own family, Mulayam knows only too well the advantages of English education. Which is why his own son was sent to a school that fined any of its students caught speaking in Hindi.

Much water has flown through the ganges ever since Mulayam tried to banish English from the gangetic plains with a little help from Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in Rajasthan, Sunderalal Patwa in Madhya Pradesh, Om Prakash Chauthala in Haryana. This grouping also had the blessings of the then president Zail Singh.

Few hours after the strongest voice from South came out with a screaming headline, the then prime minister VP Singh punctured the entire movement with an announcement over state-run Doordarshan with a promise of "continuing with English as the link language as long as all the non-Hindi speaking states wanted it."

Even the Hindi loving BJP has now toned down its strong stand given its penchant to grow as a pan India party and keen to make inroads into the South of the Vindhyas.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, of course does not have such compulsions and can get on with his crusade against English. His denial only stokes the worst fears of the English speaking elite that if he had a chance he would have banished English from UP.

Only he can not. Even Mulayam Sing Yadav as the chief minister had to take the help of the Queens language to shore up the image of the state as a progressive one to invite big investors, domestic and foreign.

His current diatribe against computers should be horrifying the aspiring ITwalas of UP. At a time when this contraption enables a person sitting in India to run a company anywhere on the globe, he wants his voters to stick to a sluggish work environment. By extension his logic would make ATMs vanish, as they are replacing bank employees.

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