Uttar Pradesh minister Sanjay Nishad said that those who do not speak Hindi should leave India and settle in some other country, The News Minute reported on Friday.

“Those who want to live in India should love Hindi,” Nishad said. “If you do not love Hindi, it will be assumed that you are a foreigner or are linked to foreign powers.”

Nishad claimed that the Constitution mentions India as “Hindustan” and this means “a place for Hindi speakers”.

“Hindustan is not a place for those who do not speak Hindi,” he added, according to The News Minute. “They should leave this country and go somewhere else.”

Nishad is currently serving as the minister in the fisheries department of the Uttar Pradesh government. He is the founder of the Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal or the NISHAD party, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

National language debate

He made the remarks in response to a media query on the debate between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Kiccha Sudeep about the official status of Hindi.

While promoting a Kannada movie, Sudeep had pointed out that Hindi is not the country’s national language and that Bollywood was aiming to increase its footprint by dubbing movies in Telugu and Tamil.

While India does not have a national language, Hindi is the official language of the country. English can also be used for official purposes.

Devgn had responded by asking why films made in South Indian languages were dubbed in Hindi. “Hindi is our mother tongue, and our national language, and it will always be,” the actor had said in a tweet.

Backing Sudeep, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said regional languages are important as the states are divided on linguistic basis. Former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy had also supported Sudeep’s position in the debate.