In an apparent support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's call for equal importance to all regional languages, acclaimed filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt on Friday said no one should impose a language on others and must allow everyone to speak their mother tongue.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had in September spoken in favour of Hindi as a unifying language for the entire country.
Bhatt, however, did not name Shah or any politician.
Asserting that great seers of the country had advocated speaking to a person in his or her own language, he said the greatness of India lies in its diversity.
"As long as filmmakers and artistes are there, we will dare to hope and devive those who tell us to speak only one language," Bhatt said at the inauguration of the 25th edition of Kolkata International Film Festival here.
He quoted Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sister Nivedita and Swami Vivekananda to buttress his point.
On the occasion of 'Hindi Diwas' in September, Shah had advocated a common language for the country and said as Hindi is spoken the most, it can unite the whole country.
The BJP president had also asked everyone to use their native languages as much as possible, but said efforts will be made to expand Hindi's reach to different parts of India.
Shah had said, while diversity in languages is the strength of India, a national language is needed so that foreign languages and cultures do not overpower the country's own.
Speaking at the opening of the festival where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee played the host, Bhatt said Ramakrishna Paramhansa had the courage to say that "We must speak to every man in their own language."
He said the Paramahansa gave words of hope and encouragement even to the most degraded and uplifted them. "We must follow in his footsteps and love them," Bhatt said.
"This is the voice of Bengal, this is the voice of the great seers and sages of this country, who said for God's sake, speak to a man in his own language; don't impose your language on him," Bhatt said.
The West Bengal chief minister had on Thursday accused the BJP government at the Centre of bias against regional languages in conducting JEE (Main) tests and said her party Trinamool Congress will hold state-wide protests against it on November 11.
The TMC supremo is up in arms against the Centre over inclusion of only the Gujarati language in the JEE (Main) examination held for admission to engineering colleges.
She had claimed states were not consulted about it, a charge dismissed by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the examination.
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