Hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor traded barbs in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday over making Hindi an official language at the United Nations, the former shared a video of her speaking in Kannada, to prove her multi-lingual credentials.
The video was shared in response to a tweet, which asked Sushma to “come learn the South Indians languages” as “they were beautiful”.
In response, Sushma said, "I am proud of all Indian languages. I speak some of them fluently."
With the tweet, she shared a video of an election rally in Bellary in August 1999, where the Minister can be seen campaigning with BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee and now Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
In the video, Sushma can be seen stepping forward, and delivering a short speech in fluent Kannada, much to the happiness of the crowd that had gathered,
Watch the video below.
On Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj, in her reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, said: "It is often asked why Hindi is not an official language in the UN. Today, I will want to tell the House, the biggest problem is the procedure."
The Minister explained that as per the procedure, two-thirds of the 193 members of the organisation -- which comes to 129 -- will have to vote in favour of making Hindi an official language and also share the financial expenditure that would be incurred in the process.
When a member pointed out that making Hindi an official language will require an expenditure of Rs 40 crore every year, Sushma Swaraj said: "Not just Rs 40 crore, the government is ready to spend Rs 400 crore on it."
"Even when we have (foreign) guests, if they speak in English, we speak in English. If they speak in their own language, we speak in Hindi. As far as glory of the language is concerned, the External Affairs Ministry never had so much work done in Hindi as now," she said.
Tharoor, who worked in the UN and announced his retirement after finishing second in the 2006 election for UN Secretary-General, questioned the need to push for Hindi, which he pointed out was not even the national language of India.
"Hindi is not the national language, it is an official language. Seeking to promote Hindi raises an important question. Why do we need an official language in the UN? Arabic does not have more speakers than Hindi, but Arabic is spoken by 22 countries, whereas Hindi is only used as an official language by one country -- us," he said.