Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi on Wednesday said that it was “shameful” to equate one’s proficiency in Hindi with their nationalism, PTI reported. Last week, an airport security official in Chennai had asked Kanimozhi if she was Indian because she didn’t know Hindi. The incident had triggered a huge political row.
“The issue is not about knowing Hindi or not,” she was quoted as saying by the news agency. “It is shameful [to say] I can be Indian only if I know Hindi.”
The DMK MP also dismissed Bharatiya Janata Party leader H Raja’s claim that she knew Hindi and had even translated a Hindi speech by former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, when he had come to Tamil Nadu. “The tweet raises many doubts,” Raja had said on August 10, in response to Kanimozhi’s tweet about the episode at the Chennai airport. “When the former Deputy Prime Minister Devilal came to TN [Tamil Nadu], his speech in Hindi was translated into Tamil by Kanimozhi. So her claim that she did not know Hindi is a white lie.”
However, Kanimozhi denied that she had translated the speech. “I did not translate Hindi for anyone, even English I did not translate,” she told ANI. “How can I translate without knowing a language? In my school, I learnt only Tamil and English. Even [after] staying in Delhi for many years I don’t know Hindi.”
Kanimozhi claimed that many political leaders are aware that she does not speak Hindi. “...The thought that only if we follow one ideology, speak Hindi and follow one religion are we Indians. It is strongly condemnable,” she said.
Multiple southern leaders including DMK President MK Stalin and Congress leader P Chidambaram have backed Kanimozhi and expressed anger about the imposition of Hindi. On August 10, former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy alleged that late Congress leader Kamaraj and DMK leader Karunanidhi were stopped from becoming prime ministers due to “Hindi politics”. BJP leader and former Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna said not knowing Hindi does not make one “any less Indian”.