Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy Monday said Hindi politics prevented many South Indian leaders from becoming prime minister of India.
“Hindi politics has prevented many South Indians from becoming prime minister – Karunanidhi and Kamaraj are prominent,” said Kumaraswamy. “Though Deve Gowda was successful in breaking this barrier, there were several incidents of him being criticized and ridiculed for reasons of language.”
His remarks came less than a day after Tamil politician Kanimozhi said she had had her nationality questioned in India for not knowing Hindi.
“Kanimozhi has been questioned ‘Are you an Indian?’. I raise my voice against the insult meted to sister Kanimozhi. Now, it is apt to debate how political leaders from the South were snatched of their opportunities by Hindi politics and discrimination,” he asserted.
According to the JD(S) leader, “Hindi politics” forced his father Gowda to deliver an Independence Day speech in Hindi when he was the Prime Minister in the late ’90s.
“Gowda finally agreed only because of farmers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Hindi politics works in this country to this extent,” he pointed out.
Reminiscing about his own experiences as a former parliamentarian, Kumaraswamy said the ruling class ignores South India with disdain.
“I have seen from close quarters how Hindi politicians maneuver. Most of them don’t respect non-Hindi politicians,” he recollected.
The South Indian leader also highlighted that only English and Hindi are being offered as the language options for writing many public sector exams, citing banking exam IBPS as an example.
“There is no place for Kannada in this year’s notification. Kannadigas are being denied opportunities for getting jobs. This must stop,” he said.
Though the federal Indian government says Hindi is one of the languages, Kumaraswamy has alleged that it is spending crores of rupees in India and overseas to promote and popularize the language.
“This is one of the clandestine programs. It is possible to fight this only with love and respect for each one’s language,” he added.