New Delhi: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Monday released a video, mincing no words in criticism of Union home minister Amit Shah’s recent endorsement of Hindi as the language to ‘unite’ India.
In what is being construed as a direct snub of Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Haasan opens the video with the proclamation that India is united in its diversity and that “no Shah, sultan or samrat” can renege on the promise that it will remain so. Modi is often referred to as the ‘Hindu hriday samrat‘ by his supporters.
Now you are constrained to prove to us that India will continue to be a free country.
You must consult the people before you make a new law or a new scheme. pic.twitter.com/u0De38bzk0
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) September 16, 2019
Shah’s tweet on the occasion of Hindi Diwas on September 14, in which he advocated for the use of Hindi on a countrywide basis, met with stiff opposition from various quarters. Social media has been rife with users mentioning the various languages they speak while at the same time as being avowed Indians.
आज हिंदी दिवस के अवसर पर मैं देश के सभी नागरिकों से अपील करता हूँ कि हम अपनी-अपनी मातृभाषा के प्रयोग को बढाएं और साथ में हिंदी भाषा का भी प्रयोग कर देश की एक भाषा के पूज्य बापू और लौह पुरूष सरदार पटेल के स्वप्प्न को साकार करने में योगदान दें।
हिंदी दिवस की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 14, 2019
The imposition of Hindi particularly puts south Indians, who are least exposed to the language, at a distinct disadvantage. Haasan, who leads the political organisation Makkal Needhi Maiam, said in his video that efforts were on to make “an inclusive India into an exclusive one.”
Haasan also indicates in the video that the protests against the ban of Jallikattu were only a primer for what protests that could follow from Tamil people if such stress was to be given on making Hindi widely spoken across the country.
Then, slipping into dire territory, he warns, “All will suffer because of such short-sighted folly.”
Haasan also gave the example of Rabindranath Tagore, who he says, composed the National Anthem in Bengali while making sure that the languages of all regions were respected within its scope.
Haasan’s rejoinder comes in a long list of reactions from southern India’s politicians, to Shah’s comments and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders’ rousing endorsement of it. Among those who have been scathing in their response were Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M.K. Stalin, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Even the BJP’s ally in Tamil Nadu, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s leader and Tamil culture minister K. Pandiarajan was quoted by Indian Express as having said, “if the Centre imposes Hindi unilaterally, there will only be (adverse) reaction and no support, not only in Tamil Nadu, but also in states like Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.”