Wading into the Hindi imposition row, senior Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and the party's Rajya Sabha member TKS Elangovan has said the language would reduce Tamils to the status of "shudras" and claimed the Hindi-speaking States in the country were not the developed ones while those with vernacular languages as mother tongue were doing well.
Attempts are being made to "impose Manu dharma through the imposition of Hindi," Elangovan said in his remarks, that have went viral, while speaking at a conference on the language imposition issue, organised by the Dravidar Kazhagam, recently.
The DMK leader, who also opposed Union Home Minister Amit Shah's pitch for Hindi, was not immediately available for comments.
"What will Hindi do? Only make us shudras. It will do no benefit to us," he said. 'Shudras' is the term used to denote the so-called lower rung in the caste heirarchy.
Elangovan further pointed out at non-Hindi speaking West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat and asked if these States were developed or not.
"Why I am asking is Hindi is not the mother tongue of people in these States. The undeveloped States are (the Hindi-speaking) Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and the newly created ones (apparently Uttarakhand). Why should I learn Hindi," he asked.
Alleged Hindi imposition is a sensitive subject in Tamil Nadu and the DMK had successfully used the issue to mobilise public support in the 1960s. The ruling party has of late been decrying attempts to 'impose' the language. Incidentally, the State government has even alleged that imposition of Hindi in the National Education Policy 2020 and has made it clear Tamil Nadu would only follow its two language formula -- Tamil and English - which has been in vogue in the State for decades.
Elangovan further said the Tamil pride is 2000 years old and that its culture always practised equality, including among genders.
"They are trying to destroy the culture and trying to impose Manu Dharma through Hindi...this should not be allowed...if we did, we will be slaves, shudras," he said.
Unity in diversity has been identity of the country and all languages must be promoted for its progress, he said.
Elangovan's sharp remarks come in the wake of his party colleague and State Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy's jibe that Hindi-speaking people were selling 'pani puri' in the State, in response to claims that learning the language would fetch jobs.
"Many said you will get jobs if you learn Hindi. Is it so...look here in Coimbatore, who is selling pani puri. It is them (Hindi-speaking individuals)," he had said. He, however, later denied his remarks amounting to 'profiling.'