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Jayalalithaa, BJP allies in TN oppose Centre's move on Hindi tweets

Chennai, Jun 20 (PTI): The row over the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s move to promote Hindi in social media and official work snowballed on Friday, with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and two of the BJP’s allies in the state opposing it strongly.

On May 27, the official language department under the home ministry had asked all ministries and departments, public sector undertakings and banks to give prominence to Hindi on official accounts in social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube, while also using English.

On Friday, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa described the proposal as ”against the letter and spirit” of the Official Languages Act, 1963, and said the “highly sensitive issue” caused “disquiet” to the people of Tamil Nadu “who are very proud of and passionate about their linguistic heritage”.

“Social media by their very nature were not only accessible to all persons on the internet, but were meant to be a means of communication to persons living in all parts of India, including those in 'Region C', she said.

”People located in 'Region C' with whom the Government of India's communication needs to be in English, will not have access to such public information if it is not in English. This move would therefore be against the letter and spirit of the Official Languages Act, 1963,” she said.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M Karunanidhi, whose party had successfully led the anti-Hindi agitation in 1960s, had on Thursday dubbed the move as a beginning of “imposition of Hindi” that would make non-Hindi speaking people second class citizens.

The Centre's move also found no favour with two of its Tamil Nadu allies also, with both Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) opposing it.

PMK founder S Ramadoss said the BJP in its election 2014 manifesto, had promised to develop all languages with rich history and culture. He also called for declaring all 22 languages in the VIII schedule of the Constitution, including Tamil, as official language and “thus put an end to the Hindi imposition controversy.”

Attempts to 'impose' Hindi in the past have been successfully resisted with, though attempts were later made to do the same, he said while terming the latest move as a ”softer version” of the imposition of Hindi.

MDMK chief Vaiko cited Modi's preference of the social media platform and said that the Centre's advisory on Hindi was a “matter of concern.”

He demanded that all Indian languages be made official languages in the interest of the country's “unity and integrity” and till such time English should continue as the official language.

“Tamil Nadu will never accept imposition of Hindi,” he said in a statement, while recalling the earlier anti-Hindi agitation. The state unit of CPI also opposed the move.