Vajpayee, Annadurai and Hindi imposition

Vajpayee's Big Lie about Hindi and Annadurai

K. Chezhian

TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2000 (ID. 2000-01-01)
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Abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. Prime Minister Vajpayee Distorts the Truth

3. Annadurai's 1963 Speech

4. Burning the Indian Constitution

5. Annadurai's Speech at the Trial

6. January 26, 1965: A Day of Mourning

7. The Postal Stamp Incidence in 1968

8. Concluding Remarks

ABBREVIATIONS

AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

MDMK - Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

PMK - Pattali Makkal Katchi

1. Introduction

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to make inroads into Tamil Nadu. The problem is that BJP's origin as well as its heart and soul are Hindi-centered, and Tamil Nadu, located in the extreme south of the Indian subcontinent, is staunchly against the imposition of Hindi language and culture from the Hindi heartland. Though leaders of Tamil-centered parties such as AIADMK, DMK, MDMK and PMK have made political alliances with BJP for various temporary, transient political reasons, the rank and file of these parties look at it with suspicion and have not accepted it as their own. They consider BJP as a Hindi-centered party because of the latter's advocacy of Hindi as the official language of India and its attempts to propagate Aryan and Hindi culture and values into this "Dravidian" land.

In order to soften the resistance of the rank and file of the Tamil-centered parties, BJP tries to propagate a lie among these party cadres that the elder statesman of Tamil-centered political parties, the founder of DMK, the late Mr. C. N. Annadurai was not against Hindi and so, by extension, the current rank and file of the Tamil-centered parties should not oppose Hindi as the official language either. Most of these cadres have not been born or were very young when Annadurai passed away in 1969. BJP leaders seem to think that they can distort Annadurai's views on Hindi and sway the rank and file of the Tamil-centered parties away from opposition to Hindi as the official language of India.

2. Prime Minister Vajpayee Distorts the Truth

Speaking at a public rally in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, BJP leader, Prime Minister Vajpayee said in September 1998, "Annadurai was not anti-Hindi. His views on the language policy need to be understood in a proper perspective." Vajpayee recalled that in 1965, Annadurai in the course of his comments on Hindi had said in the Upper House of Plarliament, ``What is our objection to Hindi? I want it to be very plain and very frank. We have no objection to any language. Especially when I hear my friend Vajpayee speaking, I think this is a very good language.'' Of course, Annadurai was not against Hindi. I am not against Hindi. I doubt if any Tamil is against Hindi. No, Annadurai was not against Hindi but he was against Hindi imposition, he was against making Hindi the official language of India over and above Tamil and other languages. Hindi is a language like any other language, like Chinese, like German, like Italian, or any other language. We are not against any of these languages. Let Chinese flourish in China. Let German flourish in Germany. Let Italian flourish in Italy. Similarly let Hindi flourish in Hindi land (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc.) We have nothing against that. What we oppose, what Annadurai opposed, was making Hindi the official language of India over and above all other languages. Sure, Annadurai said that Hindi was a very good language. Does it mean that it qualifies to be the official language of India over and above Tamil and other languages? We will quote his own words and answer that later in this article.

Annadurai had written dozens of articles and made scores of speeches against making Hindi the official language of India. If I were to compile them all, it would take a couple of thousand pages. Let me present here a few excerpts from his speeches (Transcripts of these speeches are available in newspapers of that time and in some court records). That would suffice to expose Prime Minister Vajpayee's lie about Annadurai's position on Hindi.

3. Annadurai's 1963 Speech

Speaking at a Public Meeting on April 29, 1963 at Chennai Marina (Madras Marina) organized to oppose Hindi becoming the official language of India from January 26, 1965, Annadurai said,

"We will go to every part of Tamil Nadu and tell the people that Hindi is coming and that it is like a thunder strike on the heads of Tamil and Dravidian people.... If Hindi were to become the official language of India, Hindi-speaking people will govern us. We will be treated like third rate citizens".

What do you have to say about this, Mr. Vajpayee? Was Annadurai opposed to Hindi as the official language?

4. Burning the Indian Constitution

Annadurai convened a "Hindi Opposition Conference" (Inthi Ethirpu Maanaadu) on October 13, 1963. There he announced that DMK leaders would burn the 17-th part of the Indian Constitution to show their opposition to making Hindi the official language of India. The seventeenth part of the constitution specifies that Hindi would be the official language of India. (Tell me, Mr. Vajpayee, is it an indication that Annadurai accepted Hindi as the official language of India?)

Annadurai announced to the press and the people that he would be among the first group of five people to burn the constitution at 4 PM on November 17, 1963 at the Chennai Marina (Madras Marina). To prevent them from burning the constitution, police arrested him and the four others in the group on November 16. They were charged with conspiring to burn the Constitution of India.

5. Annadurai's Speech at the Trial

Annadurai was brought to trial on December 5, 1963 for conspiracy to burn the Indian Constitution. Speaking in his defense, Annadurai said,

"Making a language (Hindi) that is the mother tongue of a region of India the official language for all the people of India is tyranny. We believe that it will give benefits and superiority to one region (the Hindi-speaking region).... This and future generations in non-Hindi areas will suffer immeasurable hardships... Making Hindi the official language of India would destroy the age old language and culture of Tamil Nadu".

Prime Minister Vajpayee said in his 1998 speech in Chennai that Annadurai said that Hindi was a very good language. Obviously so, but what has it to do with Hindi becoming the official language of India? (There are many good languages in the world!) Did Annadurai think that it qualifies Hindi to become the official language of India? This was what he said, under oath, at the trial:

"Hindi is not a fully developed language and it is not fit for any special status over the other India national languages".

The Judge sentenced him to 6 months imprisonment. In the months to come, number of other DMK leaders burnt the 17-th part of the constitution at various places in Tamil Nadu. They were all arrested and receive jail sentences ranging from one to six months.

6. January 26, 1965: A Day of Mourning

Hindi would become the official language of India on January 26, 1965. DMK announced that this day would be observed as a Day of Mourning and asked all party leaders and cadres to wear black shirts, black blouses or black ribbons, and raise black flags throughout Tamil Nadu. Annadurai was arrested on the night of  January 25. But someone in his house did raise a black flag over the house the next morning. Black flags flew over the houses of every DMK leader and many cadres on January 26, 1965 because Hindi became the official language of India on that day.

7. The Postage Stamp Incidence

 DMK won the 1967 election in Tamil Nadu and Annadurai was sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on March 6, 1967. In 1968 Tamil Nadu hosted the Second International Tamil Conference in Chennai (Madras). The Indian government issued a special postage stamp to commemorate the occasion. The stamp was to be released at the conference. Just before the release, Annadurai found out that the stamp would contain both Hindi and English inscriptions (as is usual with all Indian stamps). He was offended that Hindi inscriptions would be there on a stamp issued to commemorate a Tamil conference. He refused to release the stamp. The stamp was never released officially. Now, tell us, Mr. Vajpayee, did Annadurai accept Hindi as the official language of India?

 8. Concluding Remarks

 In spite of all the opposition to Hindi in Tamil Nadu, Hindi continues to be the official language of India and is being imposed on the people of Tamil Nadu. Governments have changed in New Delhi and Chennai. But Hindi imposition continues! Power at the center (New Delhi) and state (Chennai/Madras) has changed hands from one party to another, to another but there is no letdown in Hindi imposition.

If Prime Minister Vajpayee and other BJP leaders want to win the hearts of the Tamil people, instead of resorting to lies as Prime Minister Vajpayee did, they should introduce a constitutional amendment in parliament deleting the 17-th Part of the Constitution (that was what Annadurai wanted; that was why he asked his party leaders to burn the constitution in 1963), and change the constitution to make English the sole official language of India until the time, if ever, it is possible to make all national languages the official language of India (that was Annadurai's position). [We have strong reservation if the two dozen or so national languages could ever be effectively made the official language of India. If it is not possible, then English should remain the official language. As Annadurai said, "Making a language (Hindi) that is the mother tongue of a region of India the official language for all the people of India is tyranny. We believe that it will give benefits and superiority to one region (the Hindi-speaking region)... If Hindi were to become the official language of India, Hindi-speaking people will govern us. We will be treated like third rate citizens".] If BJP's constitutional amendment fails in the parliament, well and good. We will credit BJP for introducing the amendment.

If we are to support the BJP until it changes its position on Hindi and demonstrates it by solid deeds as noted in the previous paragraph, that would be an insult to the memory of Annadurai and all those who gave their lives, lost their limbs or went to jail heeding his call to come out and fight Hindi imposition and domination.

SUMMARY: Prime Minister Vajpayee's lie about Chief Minister Annadurai exposed.

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RELATED ARTICLES

1. Quotes on Hindi Imposition-1 (from General K. M. Kariappa, C. Rajagopalachari, First Governor-General of India, and Pattom Thanu Pillai, Former Chief Minister of Kerala State), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 1999

2. Two Dogs and Hindi: A Story from C. N. Annadurai's Speeches (by K. Chezhian), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 1999

3. Hindi Imposition and Independence for Tamil Nadu (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 1999

4. Hindi, India and Tamil Nadu (compilation of articles)

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