The AIADMK CM’s statement comes after DMK chief MK Stalin on Saturday said the NEP was an attempt by the Centre to impose HIndi and Sanskirt and announced that he would continue to fight against it. Immediately after the CM’s statement, DMK leader MK Stalin thanked Palanisamy. “Not just the language issue, the chief minister must also oppose the NEP. Many leaders have opposed it,” he added.
Palaniswami, in his statement recalled the 1963 and 1965 anti-Hindi stirs and consistent stands taken by former chief ministers CN Annadurai, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, in opposing three-language formula and not allowing the imposition of Hindi in the state. “The wishes of the people of Tamil Nadu and most of the political parties, including the AIADMK, is that only two-language policy should be in force in the state. The state government will continue with the two-language policy,” he said.
The three-language formula has always been a bone of contention between the centre and southern States, particularly Tamil Nadu which has witnessed multiple anti Hindi agitations in the last 80 years.
The Centre itself has been treading over the language question rather cautiously. Having faced the uproar over the three language formula in 2019 when the draft NEP was put in public domain, it reworded the clauses on the issue so as to assure there will be no language imposition.
The final policy document also reflects so, keeping in mind the reactions the language issue could spark, especially from southern states.
K Kasturirangan, Chairperson of the Committee on the NEP in fact cited the example of Tamilnadu when he spoke to ET on the debate over the issue of mother tongue as medium of education.
“The three language formula gives enough flexibility for states to choose which languages they wish to offer. For instance, Tamilnadu chose not to implement the three language formula despite several policies recommending it. Were they forced in any way to do otherwise? That framework still stays unchanged”, he told ET.
He added that there was no question of any imposition through the policy. “This is a free country; education is a concurrent subject and states are free to decide on the matter”, he added. The HRD minister and his ministry have also been at pains to emphasise the same and point out how the NEP has in no way tinkered with the position on language as enunciated in the 1986 education policy as well policy pronouncements in 1966 and 1993-94.
Political experts said Palanisami’s statement was targeted at consolidating the party’s voter base. For all dravidian parties, Tamil was and remains a strong ideological issue. The CM’s statement was also aimed at neutralising the DMK’s move to aggressively counter the party on the language issue, those in know of the matter said. Tamil Nadu is slated to go to polls next year.The AIADMK-led government in Tamil Nadu is an ally of the BJP in the Centre but this opposition to NEP is the third time in the recent weeks that Palanisamy has taken a stand contrary to BJP’s hindutva politics.
Last week, Coimbatore police invoked provisions of the National Security Act (NSA) against a Bharat Sena functionary who was arrested for desecrating the statue of Dravidar Kazhagam founder and social activist Periyar EV Ramasamy.
On July 4, after a statue of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran was found draped with a saffron shawl in Puducherry, Palanisamy had condemned the act in strong words, calling it “barbaric” and “hurtful.” In May, the State government had opposed the Centre’s idea of imposing conditions for granting additional borrowing limits that were approved for the State government by the Finance Ministry. In the past few years however, the AIADMK has supported major moves of the Modi government.
The Union Cabinet Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in a tweet in Tamil on Saturday had said that the Centre will not impose any language on any State. The minister had also replied to a tweet by State BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan saying he was looking forward to his guidance in implementing NEP in Tamil Nadu.