Chennai: Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan on Monday opposed any attempts to "impose" Hindi saying it was a promise made to the country decades back which "no Shah, Sultan or Samrat must renege on."
Further, India was an "excellent feast" and that such imposition would lead to "nausea", he said. "The unity in diversity is a promise that we made when we made India into 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. The "No Shah or Sultan or Samrat" remarks was an obvious reference to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's pitch for Hindi as the nation's common language, which drew sharp responses from many opposition leaders including DMK President MK Stalin and former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramiah.
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." "India is an excellent feast. Let us consume it together. If one thinks of shoving (food--Hindi in this context), it would lead to nausea please don't do that," Haasan said in the Tamil version of the video. Referring to the country's National Anthem, Haasan said it was penned in a language (Bengali) that was not mother tongue to most citizens.
"Most of the nation happily sings itsNational 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. And hence, it became our Anthem," he said. There should be no attempts to make an inclusive India into an exclusive one as "all will suffer because of such short-sighted folly," he said.
The veteran actor signed off hailing Tamil language, Tamil people and the Indian nation. On Saturday, Shah had pitched for a common language for the country and said it is Hindi which is spoken the most and that it can unite the whole country. The home minister had also said efforts will be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country and asked everyone to use their native languages as much as possible.
"India has many languages and every language has its importance. But it is absolutely necessary that the entire country should have one language that becomes India's identity globally," he had said. His remarks, however, drew sharp reactions among opposition parties, especially in Tamil Nadu where all of them including ruling AIADMK rallied against Shah's statement. AIADMK leader and Tamil culture Minister K Pandiarajan had said if the Centre imposed Hindi unilaterally, there will only be (adverse) reaction and no support, not only in this state, but also in West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, all non-Hindi speaking ones.
Stalin, who termed Shah's remarks as "shocking," had accused the Centre of "autocratic imposition of Hindi" and underscored the need for unity in opposition ranks to take forward protest against the government on such issues. Tamil Nadu was witness to the famous anti-hindi agitation successfully taken forward by the DMK in the 1960s, against the alleged imposition of the language.