Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yediyurappa, on Monday, jumped into the ‘One Nation, One Language’ debate, countering the stand taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national leadership by stating that Kannada will remain the principal language in the state.
“All official languages in our country are equal. However, as far as Karnataka is concerned, #Kannada is the principal language. We will never compromise its importance and are committed to promote Kannada and our state's culture," he posted from the chief minister’s official Twitter handle on Monday. He retweeted the post from his personal handle as well.
The tweet coming two days after BJP national president and union home minister, Amit Shah, on Saturday pushing the idea of Hindi as a national language.
Yediyurappa’s tweet setting up the first clash between himself and the top brass of the party since the former took over as chief minister after the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition collapsed.
Watch: Facing fire, BJP leaders downplay Amit Shah’s one nation, one language push
Yediyurappa’s tweet sets the stage for the first clash with the party’s top brass since he took over as chief minister of Karnataka after the collapse of the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress coalition.
Shah’s proposal on Hindi Diwas met with opposition from heads and other prominent personalities of non-Hindi speaking states, especially in south India.
“India is a country of different languages and every language has its own significance, but it is very important to have one language that should become the identity of India in the world. If one language can unite the country today, it is the widely-spoken Hindi language," Shah tweeted on Saturday.
Watch: Kamal Haasan warns Amit Shah over one nation, one language push
Protests were held in Bengaluru and Chennai, among other places in response to Shah’s comments. Hashtags such as #StopHindiImperialism #StopHindiImposition and #MakeMyLanguageOfficial continue to trend online with people targeting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre for promoting Hindi as the national language.
“The claim that Hindi unifies our country is absurd. The language is not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them. Union minister’s statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-Hindi speaking people," Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan posted on Twitter on Sunday.
Yediyurappa also sought to pander to the demands of pro-Kannada organizations in his Independence Day speech, batting for reservation for a majority of jobs in the state for the local population.
He said his government is committed to “ensuring that the self-respect and job opportunities of Kannadigas are never compromised or come under threat."
He had also called upon people migrating into Karnataka to adapt to Kannada culture, lifestyle and the language without compromising or weakening their identity.
Several leaders across parties criticised Shah’s ‘One Nation, One Language’ proposal as non-Hindi speaking states have long protested the perceived imposition of Hindi by the BJP-led NDA, alleging that it was part of its ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’ agenda.
In the run -up to the 2018 assembly polls in Karnataka, former chief minister Siddaramaiah looked to isolate the BJP as a ‘north Indian party’ by forcing the saffron outfit to take a stand against its own leadership at the centre when protests broke out in the state for using Hindi on metro signboards.