The Centre is trying to impose Hindi on states such as Tamil Nadu, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai told The Hindu in an interview published on Monday.

Thambidurai, the propaganda secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said all languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution should be granted official status at the national level. The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution has 22 official languages used by various state governments.

“In Europe, even languages spoken by just 2% of a country’s population have been made official languages,” Thambidurai said in the interview. “Why can’t we do that in our country?”

“The Centre is trying to impose Hindi on us,” said Thambidurai. “Why should a scheme be named in Hindi in Tamil Nadu? I am okay with Hindi names for government schemes in the Hindi belt. Take for instance the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. We don’t understand such names here in Tamil Nadu.”

Thambidurai said he was critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre whenever he needed to be, and not at all times. “As long as Amma [former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa] was alive, she had been critical of the BJP. As the party’s propaganda secretary, I have been critical of the Centre whenever I needed to be.”

He blamed the Centre for “almost turning” the country into a unitary state on several matters. “Though state governments get to implement some schemes, the Centre allocates the funds and prioritises certain schemes,” Thambidurai said. “Federalism should not be diluted by the Centre. The state government’s rights are being taken away. The allocation of funds is an issue.”

The Congress and the BJP give priority to the AIADMK when they need it, and “at other times, we are not treated with the same level of importance”, Thambidurai said.