"This is again a wrong propaganda going on; nobody is forcing Hindi on anybody," Naidu, also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, told reporters here. Read More: Ensure that English is used on social media: Jaya to Modi (Agencies)
"I'm for popularizing more and more regional languages, giving them importance- that is the policy of this government. There is no question of forcing any language. Let there be no apprehensions in this regard," he added.
The Home Ministry circulars have invited criticism particularly from parties in Tamil Nadu, who have raised apprehensions about Hindi imposition on non-Hindi speaking sections.
The move has come under attack from DMK leader M Karunanidhi and NDA Tamil Nadu allies MDMK chief Vaiko and PMK founder S Ramadoss.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing the proposal as "against the letter and spirit" of the Official Languages Act.
“The "highly sensitive issue had caused disquiet to the people of Tamil Nadu who are very proud of and passionate about their linguistic heritage," she said.
The Home Ministry's official language department had issued a circular on May 27 asking all ministries and departments, public sector undertakings and banks to give prominence to Hindi on official accounts in social media.
"All officers and employees who operate official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Google, Youtube should use Hindi and English languages. Prominence should be given to Hindi," Director, official language, Avadesh Kumar Mishra wrote in the directive.
Another circular announced prize money of Rs 2,000 to two employees who do their official work mostly in Hindi. Rs 1,200 and Rs 600 will be given to the second and third position holders respectively.
Govt's move to promote Hindi not 'insult' to English: BJP
BJP on Friday sought to defend the government's move to promote Hindi, saying it seeks to bind the nation together and should not be construed as an ‘insult’ to English.
"Hindi is the national language and is the heart of the country. Priority to Hindi cannot be construed as an insult to English. The government's initiative for according priority to Hindi and regional languages is a welcome step," BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
He said Hindi is a mixture of different regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayali, Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Urdu and other regional languages.
It was unfortunate that despite Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Rammanohar Lohia's efforts to propagate Hindi to connect the people of different parts of the country, the previous governments have not taken enough steps to promote it, Naqvi said.
"This time, the government is honestly doing everything to promote Hindi," he said.
"There is no conflict between Hindi and English. If somebody is opposing Hindi, it is not the right thing because they have to understand that Hindi and other regional languages have not got their proper right in the past," Naqvi said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had, however, sought to down play the controversy by saying the Centre will promote all languages of the country.
"This is again a wrong propaganda going on; nobody is forcing Hindi on anybody," Naidu, also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, told reporters here.
Read More: Ensure that English is used on social media: Jaya to Modi