"We will never compromise its importance and are committed to promote Kannada and our state's culture,” Yediyurappa said.

All official languages in India equal but Kannada first in Karnataka CM Yediyurappa
news Language Monday, September 16, 2019 - 17:30

Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa on Monday tweeted about the importance of Kannada in Karnataka. In what is being seen as a response to Home Minister Amit Shah’s ‘one nation, one language’ speech last week, Yediyurappa said, “All official languages in our country are equal. However, as far as Karnataka is concerned, Kannada is the principal language. We will never compromise its importance and are committed to promote Kannada and our state's culture.”

While Yediyurappa did not mention either ‘one nation, one language’, or Hindi, nor did he refer to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, this tweet is being seen as a contradiction by the Chief Minister to the Home Minister’s stand. 

Yediyurappa's backing for Kannada comes in the backdrop of Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement that only Hindi can unite the country. Shah also openly pushed for the 'one nation, one language' agenda during the celebrations of Hindi Diwas.

Amit Shah had said, "There are several languages in India and they have their own value, but it is important for the nation to have one language that it is identified by in the world. If there is one language that can unite the country, it's Hindi."

Read: 'Only Hindi can unite country': Home Minister Amit Shah declares

It led to massive opposition from non-Hindi speaking states as political leaders across party lines condemned the declaration and demanded that the statement be withdrawn. They also accused the union government of imposing Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states. 

In Karnataka, there was strong criticism over the issue from former Chief Ministers HD Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah. Both leaders described it as an imposition of Hindi in Karnataka while the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) released a statement alleging a hidden RSS agenda.

But the reactions were muted from BJP leaders in Karnataka who mostly remained mum on the issue. A few BJP leaders suggested that it did not amount to Hindi imposition.

In Karnataka, Kannada is the most widely spoken language. There are numerous dialects of the language spoken in the different parts of the state while other languages like Konkani, Tulu, Kodava, and Beary are also spoken. The Chief Minister's statement is being seen as an effort to negate the opposition's stand that BJP was against linguistic freedom.