Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Monday said in a video that “no shah, sultan or samrat” can renege on the promise of unity in diversity made when India became a republic. The word “shah” was an apparent pun on Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s surname, two days after he said Hindi is the only language that can unite the country.

“The unity in diversity is a promise that we made when we made India into a Republic,” the Tamil Nadu-based politician said on Monday in the video, according to PTI. “Now, no shah, sultan or samrat [emperor] must renege on that promise. We respect all languages, but our mother language will always be Tamil.”

Referring to the Jallikattu protests in 2017, Haasan said while that was just a demonstration, “the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger than that”. “India is an excellent feast,” Haasan said. “Let us consume it together. If one thinks of shoving [food], it would lead to nausea. Please don’t do that.”

He also said Indians proudly sang the national anthem in Bengali. “Most of the nation happily sings its national anthem in Bengali with pride, and will continue to do so,” the Makkal Needhi Maiam leader said. “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.”

On Hindi Divas on September 14, Amit Shah had tweeted: “India is a country of various languages and each of them has its own importance. However, a single language is extremely important for the whole country, one that can become India’s identity globally. If there is one language that can do the job of uniting the country today, then it is only the most-spoken language of Hindi.”

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin and other politicians had earlier criticised Shah’s remarks. “The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them,” Vijayan had said. “Union minister’s statement is a war cry against the mother tongues of non-Hindi speaking people.”

Stalin, on the other hand, threatened “another language protest” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not clarify what the home minister meant. Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Vaiko said India would be “Balkanised” if Hindi is imposed on everyone.

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