Villupuram/Karaikkal, February 28
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday spoke high of Tamil and its culture, calling it ‘sweet’, on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed regret about not being able to learn the old southern language.
Addressing his party’s ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rallies in Villupuram in Tamil Nadu and Karaikkal, an enclave of neighbouring Puducherry, ahead of the April 6 Assembly elections, Shah apologised to the crowd that he could not deliver his address in Tamil, although it “would have been nice” if he could do so.
“First of all I want to say sorry that I am unable to talk in one of the oldest languages in the country, the sweet one,” Shah said at the Villupuram public meeting.
“Without the great Tamil culture, India’s culture is incomplete,” he added.
Tamil Nadu had given “great people” who have done the country proud globally, Shah said, adding “the country respects Tamil and its culture”.
He also referred to Modi’s statement on Sunday about the language.
Shah’s harping on Tamil came on a day when Modi, in his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme expressed regret over not being able to learn the “world’s oldest language”.
“A few days ago Aparna Reddy ji of Hyderabad asked me one such question. She said ‘You have been PM for so many years and were CM for so many years. Do you ever feel that something is missing?” Modi said.
Noting that the question seemed simple but was difficult, he said, “I pondered this over and told myself that one of my shortcomings was that I could not make much effort to learn Tamil, the oldest language in the world; I could not make myself learn Tamil!”
The prime minister, who had invoked Tamil poet Kanian Poongundanar in his UN General Assembly address in 2019, besides reciting from Tamil treatise Tirukkural during his recent public engagements in Tamil Nadu, also praised the Tamil language and its rich literature.
“It is such a beautiful language, which is popular all over the world. Many people have told me a lot about the quality of Tamil literature and the depth of the poems written in it,” he said.
Shah, in his Karaikkal public meeting regretted that he could not address the crowd in the “great Tamil language”.
He also hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his recent support to jallikattu, which he witnessed in Madurai in January and said the party’s election manifesto for the 2016 assembly polls batted for a ban against the bull taming sport.
Jallikattu, the famous event held in Madurai during the harvest festival Pongal in January, has an emotional connect with the Tamil people and a major agitation was held in 2017 at the Marina here seeking revoking of an earlier ban against the conduct of the event. —PTI
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