NEW DELHI //The chief of India's main opposition party has stirred controversy by saying the English language is hurting the country and its rich culture.
Rajnath Singh, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said widespread use of English had stymied growth of Sanskrit, an ancient and ceremonial language mostly restricted to Hindu religious texts.
"The English language has caused a great loss to the country. We are losing our language and our culture, as there are hardly any people who speak Sanskrit now," Mr Singh was quoted as saying by the Times of India newspaper on Saturday.
Rival political leaders and analysts slammed Mr Singh's comments as regressive and reeking of hipocracy.
"On one side, their [political] vision document is outsourced to people who don't speak any language other than English. Is this medievalism or hypocrisy?" said a spkesman for the ruling Congress party, Manish Tewari.
India enjoys a strong anglophone tradition, with English widely spoken as a main language, thanks to its British colonial legacy and the boom of outsourced English-language jobs.
English is also seen as the language that helps India's vast and diverse population communicate in a country where more than 6,500 languages and dialects are spoken.