Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday claimed that people who were opposed to making Hindi India’s national language did not love their country, PTI reported. He was speaking in support of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had last week alleged that Hindi was the only language that could unite the country.

Shah had appealed to Indians to increase their use of the mother tongue and Hindi, and equated it with realising the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel of one language for the country.

“The people who are opposing Hindi as the national language are those who have no love for the country,” Deb said while inaugurating the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Centre in Agartala. “I am supporting Hindi as the national language as most of the people of our country speak Hindi.” But the chief minister also claimed that he was neither opposed to English nor was he trying to impose Hindi.

He claimed that if the British did not rule India for 200 years, then there would have been no use for English in official work in the country. “Due to loyalty to the colonial rule, English became a status symbol for many people,” he said, adding that English was not necessary for a country to progress. “Had it been the case, countries such as Germany, China, Japan, Russia and Israel would have not developed.”

He also urged government officials to help those not who are not fluent in English, and can speak only regional languages. “I have seen that if anyone comes for any help in government offices and speak in Bengali or Kokborok, officials take time to help them,” Deb said. “But as soon as you request him in English, they do it quickly. This should not be done.”

DMK to stage language protests on September 20

Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Monday announced that it would hold demonstrations across Tamil Nadu on September 20 to condemn Shah’s pitch for a single common language in India.

“The agitation is to nip in the bud the adverse effects of Hindi imposition on mother Tamil and the mother tongues of people of other [non-Hindi speaking] states,” a resolution adopted by the party said.

DMK chief MK Stalin said these protests will be the first phase of agitation against the pitch for Hindi as India’s common language, and added that further course of action will depend on the Centre’s response and consultations with like-minded parties.

On Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said that all the official languages in the country had equal status and asserted that Kannada was the “principal language” in his state.

Several other politicians, especially from the south, opposed Shah’s demand. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan had made a reference to the home minister on Monday, saying that “no shah, sultan or samrat” can renege on the promise of unity in diversity made when India became a republic.

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