Kanimozhi sparks language debate, Congress supports her, BJP smells campaign
With a tweet on Sunday, Lok Sabha MP from Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, Kanimozhi sparked a heated conversation surrounding language and attempted to slam the BJP-led Centre for imposing Hindi across the nation. The DMK MP said her nationality was questioned at an airport because she can't speak Hindi. She got support from Congress' P Chidambaram but the saffron party saw it as an "election campaign."
On Twitter, the politician said a CISF official at an airport (she didn't specify which one) asked her if she was Indian when she called upon him to speak with her in either English or Tamil. "I would like to know from when being indian is equal to knowing Hindi, (sic)" she added, ending the tweet with a hashtag "Hindi imposition."
Today at the airport a CISF officer asked me if “I am an Indian” when I asked her to speak to me in tamil or English as I did not know Hindi. I would like to know from when being indian is equal to knowing Hindi.#hindiimposition— Kanimozhi (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) August 9, 2020
In Tamil Nadu, language remains an emotive issue and residents have been opposing a Hindi imposition for decades now. When in 1965, the then Central government suggested Hindi must become India's official language, the state witnessed massive protests. Last year, when the now-amended National Education Policy (NEP) draft suggested making Hindi compulsory in all schools, the loudest criticism against this move came from Tamil Nadu.
Now, language politics has once again taken center stage in the state after Centre unveiled the new NEP, which calls for teaching three languages to school children. In the Southern state, Tamil and English are taught while choosing Hindi is optional. This month, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said he was unhappy with this suggestion and hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi would honor emotions.
"We are saddened by the three-language policy introduced by the central government in National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Our state is already following 2 language policy for decades and there will be no changes in it," Palaniswami, whose party AIADMK is a BJP ally, said.
The CM had also pointed out that Tamil Nadu's political veterans like MG Ramachandran, Anna Durai, and Jayalalithaa opposed Hindi imposition fiercely. When even a BJP partner took objection at the suggestions, it was hardly surprising that Kanimozhi waded into the row as well. She, however, was armed with a personal story. Taking note of her complaint, CISF asked her to share requisite details.
Thank you for the immediate response and assurance to take action. https://t.co/DaYdeBZhFD— Kanimozhi (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) August 9, 2020
Notably, Kanimozhi got support from Congress members. Former Union Minister P Chidambaram called the incident unpleasant but not "unusual." "I have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations and sometimes face to face," he wrote. His son Karti said the incident was "outright ridiculous, highly condemnable."
Separately, BJP said DMK has already started campaigning for Assembly polls. "Assembly elections are eight months away... Campaign starts, (sic)" BJP's BL Santhosh tweeted. Elections will be held in Tamil Nadu in the first half of 2021.