The incident of DMK leaders locking horns with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar occurred during the latter’s three-hour-long speech, which he delivered in Hindi, whereas DMK leader Baalu sought a translation as he and others claimed difficulty in comprehending the content.
Present at the meeting were DMK president MK Stalin and TR Baalu, who signalled to Rajya Sabha MP Manoj K Jha, requesting a translation of Nitish Kumar’s address. The Bihar CM, visibly displeased, responded assertively, stating, “We live in Hindustan; Hindi is our national language (Rashtra basha), and everyone should know it.” This retort highlighted the underlying tension between linguistic diversity and the promotion of a national language within the I.N.D.I Alliance.
The friction between DMK and Nitish Kumar escalated, with the Bihar CM losing his cool at the perceived disregard for Hindi, considered by many as a unifying language for the nation. The incident took place against the backdrop of DMK’s controversial stance and utterances, which some argue may have contributed to the Congress party’s challenges in the recently held five-state assembly polls.
DMK Vs JDU over Hindi in the INDIA meet:
Reportedly, Nitish Kumar was speaking in Hindi and DMK MP TR Baalu requested Manoj Jha to ensure translation, to which a miffed Nitish said, ‘we live in Hindustan, Hindi is our national language and everyone should know it’… no protest…
— Akshita Nandagopal (@Akshita_N) December 20, 2023
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a firm stand on the use of Hindi, refusing a translation of his speech and drawing attention to the contrasting reactions from DMK members present. This incident has sparked discussions about the DMK’s position on “Hindi imposition.”
As Nitish Kumar spoke, TR Baalu signalled to Rajya Sabha MP Manoj K. Jha for a translation. However, Kumar intervened, preventing Jha from providing the requested translation. The lack of protest or objection from the DMK members in response to Kumar’s assertion has raised eyebrows, leading to questions about the party’s stance on the issue of Hindi imposition.
Nitish Kumar delved into the historical context of India’s freedom struggle against the British, criticising the imposition of English. Despite efforts from other leaders to calm the situation, no translation was offered, even when Lalu Prasad Yadav spoke later. Subsequent speakers opted for English over Hindi.
DMK has a long-standing history of opposing any attempts to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states, expressing concerns about cultural assimilation and the potential marginalisation of regional languages since the 1960s. However, critics argue that the party’s failure to challenge Nitish Kumar’s assertion on Hindi contradicts its previous stand against language imposition.
It is noteworthy that despite DMK’s vocal opposition to Hindi imposition, leaders from its first family, including Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran, have studied Hindi, and the party’s CBSE school teaches the language. During election campaigns in North Indian settlements, DMK leaders would strategically deploy Hindi-speaking leaders for canvassing votes and put up banners in Hindi.
Criticism from netizens suggests that DMK could have opted for a straightforward response, such as “Hindi Theriyadu Poda” (We do not know Hindi), a slogan they launched in 2020 after Kanimozhi raised concerns about being addressed in Hindi by security personnel at the airport. This incident has prompted a reevaluation of DMK’s stance on language issues and its consistency in addressing the complex dynamics of linguistic diversity within the INDIA bloc.
— Aryabhata | ஆர்யபட்டா 🕉️ (@Aryabhata99) December 20, 2023
When your own stupid secessionist policies come back to bite you 😂😂😅
— Arvintha (@ArvinthaB) December 20, 2023
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s conspicuous absence from the joint press conference following the recent INDIA bloc meeting has fueled speculation about his dissatisfaction. Sources suggest that Kumar, noting a shift in political dynamics, is seeking to renew ties with the NDA. His absence has intensified discussions among INDIA leaders, who are divided over a series of controversial remarks made by DMK leaders including comments on Sanatana Dharma, Gau Mutra, derogatory remarks against North Indians, anti-Hindu sentiments, and his opposition to Hindi.
A few days back MK Stalin has condemned the alleged insult meted out to a Tamil woman at the Goa airport after she said she didn’t Hindi to a CISF ( Central Industrial Security Force) personnel. “The recurring incidents of passengers from non-Hindi speaking states facing harassment by CISF personnel for not knowing Hindi and being forced to accept the misguided notion that Hindi is the national language of India are deeply concerning,” Stalin posted this on X.
Netizens later shared information and past posts made by one Sharmila Rajasekhar on social media platform X where she has shared posts in Hindi. Here are a few screenshots and links to Sharmila’s YouTube channel. Netizens claimed it was the same woman pointing at the similarity in the voices too.
How fraudulent & dangerous are these social media influencers from the @INCIndia & @arivalayam ecosystem? Attaching images for proof! Why will you go to another state & expect them to understand Tamizh! If they do it , you call them ‘Pani Poori mandayans’ , ‘VADAKANS’ and what… pic.twitter.com/ot3D0VIgla
— Mohan Babu R (@ItsyourMB) December 14, 2023
கோவா விமான நிலையத்தில் இந்தியில் பேச சொல்லி CISF வீரர் வற்புறுத்தியதாக கூறிய பெண் எக்ஸ் பக்கத்தில் இந்தியில் பதிவிட்டு உள்ளதாக பரப்பப்படும் வதந்தி. இரண்டும் வெவ்வேறு நபர்கள். pic.twitter.com/5sdDUbHGag
— youturn (@youturn_in) December 14, 2023
Using the hashtag #StopHindiImposition, Stalin said, “In airports, the CISF personnel must extend due respect to all languages and strengthen federalism.”
Criticising the CISF, Udhayanidhi said, “It is no longer acceptable for such incidents to continue at airports. The Central Force is for security — not for conducting Hindi lessons.”
He further wrote: “In the multi-lingual Indian Union, the continued imposition of Hindi on the people who speak other languages is against the philosophy of federalism. The Union Government should not take such a trend and take immediate action. Fascists must understand that the right to language is also a human right.”
கோவா விமான நிலையத்தில் @CISFHQrs வீரர்கள் இந்தியில் பேசியது புரியவில்லை என்று தமிழ்நாட்டைச் சேர்ந்த பெண் ஒருவர் கூறிய போது, அவர் குழந்தையுடன் வந்திருக்கிறார் என்றும் பாராமல், “இந்தி தான் தேசிய மொழி. இது கூட தெரியாதா” என கூகுள் செய்து பார்க்கச் சொல்லி வற்புறுத்தி – மிரட்டிய…
— Udhay (@Udhaystalin) December 14, 2023
Concerns also arise from corruption charges, ED and IT raids, court verdicts, and DMK President Stalin’s alleged inability to effectively communicate in English or Hindi. Political observers predict Nitish Kumar’s potential exit before the 2024 elections on grounds yet to be determined
The confrontation underscores the complexity of linguistic diversity within the political landscape of I.N.D.I Alliance, as leaders grapple with the balance between regional languages and the national identity embodied by Hindi. The incident also raises questions about the potential ramifications of such disputes on the unity and cohesion of the I.N.D.I Alliance.