After Independence, India witnessed many violent protests for linguistic reasons. In 1953, Andhra Pradesh was the first Indian state to be created on the basis of language. After the creation of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu also witnessed violent protests against Hindi. It was such a fierce protest that many central leaders and ministers could not muster courage to go to Tamil Nadu at that time. The only leader who had the courage to face anti Hindi-protesters was Indira Gandhi. Mrs Gandhi, who happened to a central minister went to Tamil Nadu and held talks with protesters. Indira Gandhi successfully handled the situation and the violent protests were subsided. Now, a Chief Minister of the Congress party (to which Indira Gandhi belonged) has started playing the language card to get victory in the upcoming assembly elections. This is a dangerous political game being played by Tarun Gogoi of Assam.
In a recent statement, Gogoi said that Hindi speaking leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to invade Assam and its language. Just mind the word INVADE. Gogoi alleged that Hindi speaking leaders of BJP want to corrupt the Assamese pronunciation. In support of his allegation, Tarun Gogoi quoted the Assam BJP in-charge Mahendra Singh. Gogoi alleged that Mahendra Singh mis-pronounced the name of great Vaishnav saint Shrimant Shankardeva as Baba Shankardev. In support of his allegation, Gogoi cited many examples. But, Gogoi didn’t stop here and said that befitting reply would be given to those who want to destroy the Assamese pronunciation. ‘Invade’ and ‘befitting reply’ are the words which needs to be underlined.
This is the statement of a leader who took oath of office under Indian Constitution. Our Constitution doesn’t allow discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour and language. How can Chief Minister of a state utter such venomous language? That too of a state where there is a long history of ethnic violence. Hindi-speaking people were targeted and murdered at regular intervals in Assam during Gagoi’s rule. Recently, an eighteen-year-old girl and her father were killed inside their house, just because she was Hindi-speaking. Before that, thirteen Hindi speaking people were murdered in broad daylight. What happened to the murderers of those thirteen people is still unknown. It is fair enough that Gogoi is very sentimental and touchy about state’s language and its pronunciation but that that doesn’t give him the license to spread hatred against those people of the country who speak different language.
Recently, during the debate on Constitution in Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu raised issue of Gogaoi’s statement but in a counter, the MP son of Gogoi raised the statement of Assam governor. In our country’s polity, it has now become a regular practice to raise the misdeeds of predecessors as counter argument. Now, time has come to negate this thought and practice. Because two blacks never make a white. The statement of Tarun Gogoi is a glaring example of ‘politics of hatred’. Nation has to think about this seriously.
Noted Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar once wrote- The question of language is not a cultural question only. In special situations, it connects to Politics and impact the freedom and sovereignty of the country. Dinkar said this when whole of South India was burning on the issue of language. At that time also, politicians were spreading hatred against Hindi. The whole country witnessed the result of that linguistic hatred. Politics based on language was again started by Balasaheb Thackrey of Shiv Sena. Bal Thackrey continued with this politics of hatred for almost three decades. Lately, the voters of Maharashtra started rejecting this type of politics. Even Raj Thackeray wanted to toe that line and failed miserably first in Parliamentary election and then in Assembly election.
In fact, the coming Assembly election of Assam and possible anti-incumbency against present Congress Government forced Gogoi to give such ant-Hindi statement to polarize the Assamese votes. As per the last census, there are almost 59 percent Assamese voters in comparison to 5 percent Hindi speaking voters. But for mere political gain, Tarun Gogoi’s statement is highly objectionable. It seems that after three consecutive terms, people of Assam are not happy with Gogoi.
Sensing discontent among the voters of Assam, the Chief Minister started the dangerous game of linguistic polarization. While speaking about the wrong pronunciation and HINDI INVASION, Gogoi forgets that Hindi has a long history of acceptance in the North-East. There is enough example to show that rulers of North Eastern states used Hindi. Nagri text were inscribed on Manipuri Coins. Gogoi must know that in 1890, Britishers filed a case against Manipuri General Tekendrajit Singh for which all papers were filed in Hindi. Even he recorded his statement in Hindi.