Home Minister Amit Shah’s one nation one language pitch on the occasion of Hindi Diwas has raked up the language debate among diverse parts of India.

From the Opposition, Congress was quick to react and  said the three-language formula should not be tinkered with and controversies must not be stirred up on “emotive” issues settled by Constitution-makers. The party also said no indication should be given of a rethink on the “three-language formula” as it will create strife and unrest in the country.

The three languages formula is commonly understood to comprise Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective states.

Shah on Saturday pitched for a common language for the country and said since Hindi is spoken the most, it can unite the whole country. He also asked people to use their native languages as much as possible, but said efforts will be made to expand Hindi’s reach to different parts of the country.

Asked about Shah’s remarks, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, “Let me make it very clear, if that is true then the Home Minister of India should know that Hindi has been declared as the official language long back.”

The Constitution clearly respects India’s diversity as it recognises 22 languages spoken by a large number of people, Sharma said. “We should not stir up controversies on emotive and sensitive issues which have been settled by the maturity of India’s Constitution-makers and the prime minister after Independence,” Mr Sharma said.

That formula must not be tinkered with and no indication should be given of a rethink which will create strife and unrest in the country, the Congress leader said.

“Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, Odiya, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Urdu are all Indian languages. So, yes, we celebrate the Hindi Divas. I am also Hindi-speaking. But I respect all other languages in the country,” Sharma said.

According to the Official Languages Act, 1963, Hindi and English are the official languages for the Union government and Parliament. A total of 22 languages of the country are recognised under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Tweeting in Kannada, former chief minister Siddaramaiah said, “The lie that Hindi is a national language should stop. Let it be known to all that it is just like Kannada, one among the 22 official languages of India. You cannot promote a language by spreading lies and fake information. Languages flourish by affection and respect for each other.”

However, the Congress leader reminded that he was not opposed to Hindi but the attempt to impose a language. “Languages are the window of knowledge. It should be nurtured by love and not by force. I too oppose the Hindi Diwas celebrations,” he tweeted.

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy sought to know from Prime Minister Narendra Modi when ‘Kannada Diwas’ would be organised across the country.

“The Central government is celebrating ‘Hindi Diwas.’ When will you celebrate Kannada Diwas Mr Narendra Modi, which is also an official language like Hindi? Remember that the people of Karnataka are part of the federal system,” Kumaraswamy tweeted. He ran a hashtag ‘Stop Hindi Imposition.’

On the other hand, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar pitched for learning Hindi. “We learnt Hindi watching former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s lecture in chaste Hindi.

He was the first leader from India who gave his lecture in Hindi,” said the minister speaking at the Hindi Diwas and organised by the district administration at Chamarajnagar. The minister said Hindi should be given equal place just as Kannada. He also assured the Hindi teachers of addressing their grievances.

Siddaramaiah had on Friday cried foul over not holding the bank clerk recruitment exam, conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, in Kannada. Meanwhile, a pro-Kannada outfit has warned of agitations from October 1, if the Centre ‘imposes’ Hindi in the state.