Shashi Tharoor, the Congress’ MP from Thiruvananthapuram, on Wednesday asked why India should make Hindi one of the languages spoken at the United Nations, PTI reported. Tharoor made the remark after two Bharatiya Janata Party MPs asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Parliament about the steps taken to make Hindi an official language at the UN.

“If tomorrow someone from Tamil Nadu or from West Bengal becomes the prime minister, why should we force him to speak in Hindi at the UN?” Tharoor asked during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. He also said that India is the only country where Hindi was an official language.

Responding to Tharoor and the BJP MPs, Swaraj said Hindi was an official language even in Fiji, and was spoken widely in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and many other countries.

However, she said United Nations rules do not allow Hindi to be made an official language at the world body. She said that according to the UN’s rules, the motion to make a language official has to be supported by two-thirds of the body’s members (that is, by 129 out of 193 countries). All member nations have to bear the expenses of making Hindi an official UN language, she said.

“It is not difficult to get the support of two-third member nations. But when the issue of bearing the expenses comes, many small nations become hesitant,” the minister added. “This is a big hurdle in making Hindi an official language at the UN”.

An unidentified BJP MP said India would have to pay Rs 40 crore to the UN make Hindi one of the official languages. “We are ready to pay even Rs 400 crore if required,” Swaraj said. However, she added that the global body’s rules do not permit such payments.