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Regional leaders slam Amit Shah for Hindi pitch

New Delhi: Upping the ante, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday announced demonstrations across Tamil Nadu on September 20 against Home Minister Amit Shah’s pitch for Hindi as a common language, while Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan warned of “an exponentially bigger battle” than the 2017 pro-Jallikattu protests against “imposition” of the language.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, however, hit out at those opposing Hindi as the ‘national language’, saying “they have no love for the country”. “I am supporting Hindi as the national language as most of the people of our country speak Hindi,” the BJP leader said, endorsing Shah’s remarks made on the occasion of Hindi Divas on Saturday that have riled the southern parties, including the BJP’s ally AIADMK, and the Left.

In BJP-ruled Karnataka, Congress veteran Siddaramaiah and the JD(S) have come out strongly against Shah’s statements.

DMK chief M K Stalin said his party’s agitation was the first phase of protest on Hindi issue and the further course of action will be decided on the basis of central government’s response and consultations with like-minded parties.

The agitation was to nip in the bud the “adverse effects of Hindi imposition on mother Tamil and the mother tongue of people of other (non-Hindi speaking) states,” a resolution adopted at a party meet said.

Opposing any attempt to “impose” Hindi, Haasan said that unity in diversity was the promise made to the people when India became a republic. “Now, no Shah, Sultan or Samrat must renege on that promise. We respect all languages, but our mother language will always be Tamil,” he said in a video.

Haasan, referring to the 2017 pro-jallikattu protests here, said, “It was just a protest, the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger than that.” India or Tamil Nadu “does not need or deserve such a battle.”

Referring to the country’s National Anthem, Haasan said, “Most of the nation happily sings its National Anthem in Bengali with pride, and will continue to do so.” “The reason is the poet (Rabindranath Tagore) who wrote the National Anthem gave due respect to all languages and culture within the Anthem,” he said.

Shah’s remarks have evoked mixed reactions across the country with over 50 eminent Bengali personalities from different walks of life calling upon the people to give “due respect to all languages” and “resist attempt to impose just one”.

Taking to Facebook, they issued a statement on Monday, urging people to register a strong protest against any bid to edge out Bengali language from their lives.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that people should respect all languages and cultures but not at the cost of their mother tongue.

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