In a controversial U-turn, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra on Thursday went back on its move to distribute copies of Bhagwad Gita after students and academics raised a hue and cry over the decision.
The Devendra Fadnavis government had ordered the distribution of the holy book among students in 100 NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation)-accredited colleges in Mumbai.
Predictably, the order created furore in academic circles and students’ organisations.
Reacting to the government’s order, Congress leader Sachin Sawant told National Herald that the move must be seen in the light of government’s attempt to ‘politicise religious symbols’. “The move is against constitutional values and the ethos of secularism,” said Sawant.
President of the Republican Vidyarthi Sena, Aashish Gade, ridiculed the decision to distribute Gita among students in colleges. “Instead, the government should distribute copies of our Constitution in colleges. It will set a good example of a progressive state,” said Gade.
Leader of the Samajwadi Party, Abu Azmi, had also criticised the decision of the state government. Calling it a part of electoral propaganda ahead of 2019 election, he said, “Why only Gita is being distributed? Why not Quran and Bible are being distributed in colleges? Let students decide what they want to read.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the controversy, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde told media that that government had not distributed Gita. It had merely facilitated Bhakti Vedant Trust by providing them the list.
“Bhakti Vedant Trust from Bhiwandi wanted to distribute Bhagwad Gita at colleges. We provided them with a list of colleges. If someone says they want to distribute Quran and Bible, we will give them the list of colleges too,” said Tawde.
President of the Republican Vidyarthi Sena, Aashish Gade, ridiculed the decision to distribute Gita among students in colleges. “Instead, the government should distribute copies of our Constitution in colleges. It will set a good example of a progressive state,” said Gade
A circular issued by the Directorate of Higher Education Maharashtra and Higher Education Director of Mumbai was sent to the principals of all Arts, Science, Commerce and Law colleges in Mumbai and suburbs on July 11. Through the circular, the BJP government has asked colleges to collect their sets of Gita. Non-government colleges have also been been asked to distribute Gita among students.