Protests make BJP swear by Kannada over Hindi in Karnataka

BENGALURU: Vociferous protests by opposition parties and activists in Karnataka made the ruling BJP government give primacy to Kannada after its National President Amit Shah favoured Hindi as one language across the country that sparked a controversy in the southern state.
“All official languages, including Kannada and Hindi are equal. In Karnataka, as Kannada is the principle language, we will never compromise on its importance. We are committed to promoting it (Kannada),” said Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in a series of tweets in Kannada and English, clarifying the party’s and government’s views on the language row.
Celebrating September 14 as the Hindi Diwas, Shah had 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 connects the entire nation in a common thread of unity, it is Hindi, which is spoken the maximum.”
Protesting against Shah’s call for Hindi as the national language linking the people across the country, leaders and cadres of the opposition Congress and JDS staged demonstrations, held rallies in cities and towns and vowed not to allow Hindi to replace Kannada as the common or link language in the state.
“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 said on Sunday.
Echoing the Congress, JDS leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said Kannada had the same status in the Constitution as Hindi and 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,” tweeted Kumaraswamy in Kannada.
Haling Yediyurappa’s assertive clarification on protecting Kannada from the onslaught of Hindi, #StopHindiImposition campaigners expressed relief and urged Shah to withdraw his statement in favour of Hindi as the one common language across the country.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, a Lok Sabha member from Dharwad in the state’s northwest region, however, said Shah’s call for making Hindi a national language was because majority of the people (45 per cent) speak in Hindi nationwide than in other languages.