DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Thursday condemned an order by the home ministry that calls for priority to Hindi in official social media interactions. He asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to focus on the agenda of development.
“It’s a beginning to impose Hindi against one's wish, attempt to treat non-Hindi speakers as second class citizens,” Karunanidhi said.
“All well wishers want Modi to focus on economic and social development. Language battlefields have not yet dried. History has recorded anti-Hindi agitation. Can we forget Nehru's assurance that English would be official language as long as non-Hindi speakers want?” Karunanidhi said.
The ascent of Hindi at Raisina Hill — which houses the Prime Minister’s Office and powerful ministries of defence, finance and external affairs — is one of the first perceptible signs of change promised by Modi.
Be it the cabinet or Congress core group meetings, English was the dominant language in the UPA’s top echelons. But Modi — who can speak English — is more comfortable in Hindi, unapologetically so.
The home ministry had passed the order calling for preferred use of Hindi on social media, according to reports.
Reacting to Karunanidhi’s criticism of the order on Thursday, minister of state (home), Kiren Rijiju said: “Hindi is official language doesn’t mean we'll discourage regional languages. All languages will be given due importance.”
In Chennai, Karunanidhi, whose party drew a blank in the recent Lok Sabha polls, also called for "healthy debates" on proportional representation of parties in Parliament.
He said while the BJP's vote share at the national level was 31%, it had won 282 seats, but its rival Congress with 19.3% vote share had netted 44 constituencies.
He also expressed concern over the continuing arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy despite Modi 'honouring' Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by inviting him for his swearing-in ceremony.
"He (Rajapaksa) announced releasing of arrested Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture. But the arrests have not stopped," Karunanidhi said, adding India had also released Sri Lankan fishermen from its jails.
He was responding to the arrest of 73 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy on June 7.