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Union minister Sadananda Gowda from Karnataka bats for Hindi

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-07-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: Union minister for statistics and programme implementation and former Karnataka chief minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda on Thursday said Karnataka should follow a three language policy with Kannada, English and Hindi in comments that will not go down well with the pro-Kannada organisations up in arms against attempts to impose Hindi in the state.

Gowda’s statements add to the growing anger against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government which is seen by non-Hindi speaking states, especially those in the southern India, as the imposition of a language of the northern region, which couldn’t be more different from Southern languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

“Kannada must be given priority as it is the state language. Since majority of Indians speak Hindi, it should become the second language. As an international language, English should also be there,” Gowda, a member of Parliament from the Bengaluru North constituency, said in support of his three language formula suggestion.

Incidentally, Gowda’s statement comes on a day when pro-Kannada activists defaced a hotel signboard in an upscale mall in the city.

ALSO READ: Pro-Kannada groups look to put up united front against imposition of Hindi in southern states

The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) has already demanded an explanation from the Bengaluru metro authority on its decision to use the three language formula at Metro stations-a demand that is mirrored in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as well.

The hastag #NammaMetroHindiBeda (our metro, don’t want Hindi) has gone viral on social media.

The perceived imposition of Hindi has seen hardline native language groups in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra overlook their historical differences to put up a unified resistance.

Heading into elections next year, the BJP’s conspicuous pro-Hindi stand may dent its chances of returning to power in the Karnataka, developments which other political parties like the Congress and Janata Dal (secular) are using to their advantage.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has made it clear that the state would not tolerate any attempt by the Centre to impose Hindi. “Just because Hindi is spoken in several north Indian states, it should not be seen as a language which is spoken across the country,” Siddaramaiah said on 29 June, the Deccan Herald reported.

For the BJP, Karnataka is an important state; one that holds the key to the saffron party’s ambition to penetrate southern states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where it has little or no presence at all.

The Cauvery river water sharing and language struggles evoke emotions like none other and are among two major issues in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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