- TS Venkatesan, Chennai-
After failing to attract the attention of the people of the state on various issues by attacking the AIADMK government through his statements on a daily basis, the DMK president M Karunanidhi turned his guns against the Centre. He slammed the Centre for its ‘wanton’ efforts to impose Sanskrit on students and said such ‘chauvinism’ would disturb the nation from the path of growth.
The 93-year old script writer turned now wheel-chair bound politician is adept at political innuendos against opponents. After the continuous defeat in the polls after 2011, his only full time job is to churn out statements by making the ruling dispensation responsible for all the evils and taking credit for good things. Occasionally, he vents his view on policies, actions of the Centre.
The self -proclaimed champion of Tamils and their cause, saviour of social justice has now turned ire against the Modi government. Last week, Karunanidhi stepped up his attack on the move to teach Sanskrit as the third language in schools under the Union government and said it was against the concept of equal status for all the languages recognised by the Constitution. In a statement here, the DMK leader said, “The Union government is ignoring our plea to declare all the languages placed in the eighth schedule as official languages of India. But, it is showing keen interest in imposing Hindi and Sanskrit. Is it equal justice for all languages?”.
Hitting out at the announcement on Sanskrit teaching by Union minister Smriti Irani, he said, ‘such discriminatory acts based on language and cultural chauvinism’ would derail the nation from development path and divert attention from the basic issues for people’s livelihood. Citing media reports that the Union HRD Ministry was trying to set up a board for Vedic studies in schools, he said ‘Ever since the BJP came to power at the Centre, there has been a conscious attempt to thrust Sanskrit as a convenient way of furthering the ‘fundamentalist’ Hindutva policies.’ Karunanidhi said While the Centre was eager to promote Sanskrit citing culture, the over five decade-old demand to declare all 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution as the official language has been ignored.
He said that after the BJP government came to power at the Centre, there is urgency in acts of imposing Sanskrit. Besides celebration of Sanskrit and Hindi weeks, 30 minutes had been allotted in Doordarshan to news in Sanskrit. Karunanidhi also recalled Irani's earlier statement that she would mobilise the support of all the nations to make Hindi as one of the official languages of United Nations. Citing the Minister’s statement that Sanskrit would be necessary to teach Indian culture, the DMK president said the Minister’s remarks showed that imposition of culture would follow the imposition of Sanskrit. The BJP government is adamant on imposing Sanskrit as it would be useful for attaining their Hindutva goals, he added. He charged the Centre with being obstinate in ‘thrusting’ Sanskrit and said such ‘linguistic, cultural chauvinism’ would derail the nation from the pathway of growth.
Meanwhile, speaking at a marriage function on June 13, Karunanidhi said that the people trying to impose Sanskrit on the state are ‘fools’ and warned of an anti-Hindi like agitation in the state. “Now, there are talks of imposing Sanskrit. With the blessings of the ruling government, Sanskrit is being pushed and steps are being taken to destroy Tamil language,” he added. Warning the state government, the DMK patriarch said, “The people who instigate the move to impose Sanskrit should better stop it, else they will be responsible for another anti-Hindi like agitation in the state.”Karunanidhi said, “The people who are thinking to destroy Tamil language and its rich tradition and culture should be chased by whipping”. There is no place for it in TN, he added.
MDMK chief Vaiko also attacked the Centre saying that the Modi government should stop imposing Sanskrit in educational institutions. In a statement he said, “The union government has ordered Sanskrit to be taught as the third language in government-run schools. Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani too is chalking out a plan to set up a Vedic Board to popularise Vedic scriptures. This is highly condemnable”. He said, “Only if the Centre allows different kinds of languages to flourish in the country, can it progress. Unity in diversity should be the focus, rather than the domination of one single cultural or linguistic force over the others”.
“After the BJP-led government assumed power at the centre, there is an increase in the imposition of Hindi and Sanskrit in the educational sphere. Even the Doordarshan channel, of late, is running news shows in Sanskrit.” This, he said, is a wrong imposition of language and culture on the people of India. Modi government is implementing RSS ideologies.
Reacting to their statement, TN BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan said ‘if Karunanidhi could at least manage to make Tamil language the medium of instruction in schools in Tamil Nadu!’ “But if the Centre is taking steps for promoting Indian culture, he is ranting,” she added. Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) has criticised the Central government with the aim of once again doing politics in the name of language. She alleged Karunanidhi, known for his strong pro-Tamil stand and promoting it, had actually ‘ignored’ divine Tamil and asked if it wasn’t a “betrayal” to the Tamil people. “Can you deny that your party posters in Hindi were pasted in areas dominated by North Indians (during May16 Assembly polls)? Can you deny this is brazen opportunism?,” she questioned in a statement.
Tamilisai questioned Karunanidhi, whose party had successfully spearheaded the anti-Hindi agitation in the state in 1960s, as to what he had done for Tamil, and asked if he could at least manage to make the language the medium of instruction in schools in Tamil Nadu. “But if the Centre is taking steps for promoting Indian culture, he is ranting,” she said.
On his comments that the Centre had been ‘ignoring’ DMK's request for 50 years to declare all 22 Indian languages, listed in the eight schedule of the Constitution, as official languages of the Union government, she pointed out that during this period his party was a key constituent of the various central governments. She justified that Union HRD Ministry's move (on Vedic education) was only aimed at the students of CBSE, and that too (to take as) an optional one, she said, adding “no one is being forced” to learn Sanskrit. The government's intention and duty was to make future generation realise the value of our culture and there was no imposition of anything, she said, “It is wrong to see an imposition of a language or language politics”.
In 60s DMK protested against imposition of Hindi.The result was that many could not learn the language of majority. But his daughter Kanimozhi, nephew Maran studied in English medium schools with Hindi as an optional subject. For another five years, till next assembly polls, he has to remain aloof in politics and to keep flock in active mode. To that end, DMK has decided to target centre that would benefit them in the runner up to next Lok Sabha elections” said a political analyst. n