Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday asked how much people should sacrifice if they did not know Hindi, days after AYUSH Ministry Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said he would only be able to speak in Hindi at a virtual seminar and asked participants to leave it if they did not understand the language, PTI reported.

The former chief minister asked if Kotecha made the comments with “shameless excitement” to impose Hindi. “Is this a request for not knowing English or a shameless excitement to impose Hindi?” asked Kumaraswamy in a series of tweets. He has also demanded that action be taken against Kotecha.

Kumaraswamy said all languages in India are part of the federal structure, adding that constitutional federalism united the country.

“When such is the situation, isn’t asking people to go out of the training programme for not knowing to speak in Hindi, a violation of the federal system? Anti-constitution?” he asked.

Kotecha’s comment has again brought up the debate of the imposition of Hindi across the nation. At the AYUSH ministry’s training session attended by various non-Hindi speaking participants, Kotecha had allegedly said he did not speak English and so people could leave if there was a problem understanding him. A video of the statement went viral on social media.

The secretary, however, claimed that the video was manipulated.

Delegates from non-Hindi speaking states, including a group of 37 government yoga and naturopathy practitioners from Tamil Nadu, tried to share their concerns with authorities over the impediments in communication at the conference, but did not receive any response. The three-day training programme that began on August 18 primarily used Hindi as a medium of instruction, the attendees said. Trainees from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala had also participated in the sessions.

On August 9, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi had alleged that a Central Industrial Security Force officer at an airport in Tamil Nadu asked her if she was Indian because she had said she did not know Hindi. The CISF has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Kanimozhi has also demanded that secretary Kotecha be suspended.

Karti Chidambaram, Congress MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, had also criticised Kotecha. “AYUSH training in Hindi ignores Tamil Nadu delegates,” he said. “Not knowing English is understandable, but this arrogance of asking those who don’t know Hindi to leave and insisting on speaking in Hindi is totally unacceptable.”