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BMC passes motion to make Vande Mataram mandatory in all municipal schools

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar on Thursday announced that Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has passed a motion to make singing of 'Vande Mataram' compulsory in all the civic-run schools, ANI reported. It will come into effect after Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta gives his administrative nod to the proposal.

The decision was taken after BMC's general body meeting on Thursday. The Madras High Court ruling had triggered a political slugfest in the Maharashtra Legislature, with a BJP MLA demanding its implementation in schools and colleges of the state, while the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Samajwadi Party MLAs strongly opposing the proposal.

According to The Times of India, a first-time BJP corporator from Goregoan Sandeep Patel had tabled a notice demanding that Vande Mataram should be compulsorily sung in all BMC schools at least twice a week. His proposal was supported by the ruling Shiv Sena, and Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar who approved it on Thursday.

Patel was quoted as saying, "The song as such would only increase patriotism in the minds of children. Therefore, I strongly felt that the BMC should consider this proposal." He was of the opinion that the song should also be sung in all BMC statutory committee meetings.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

However, during the meeting, Samajwadi party leader Rais Shaikh strongly opposed the proposal and demanded a poll over the issue and said that he did not oppose singing Vande Mataram; however, there is no need to make it compulsory in schools.

According to The New Indian Express, he was quoted as saying, "...I also love my motherland but according to our religion, 'vandan' is allowed only for 'Allah and no one else." The Congress and Samajwadi Party corporators boycotted the proceedings, alleging that they were not allowed to put forth their views.

The  Financial Express said Dalit leader Ramdas Athawale had earlier supported the proposal and said that there’s nothing wrong if one does not wish to sing Vande Mataram. He was quoted as saying,Everybody should recite Vande Mataram, but if it is not recited what will go wrong?..."

The proposal was even supported by a senior BJP MLA Raj Purohit, who had assured that he would meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and seek his intervention to make it compulsory for everybody to sing the national song at any event. He was of the opinion that every event should begin with Vande Mataram and end with Jana Gana Mana.

Patel was inspired by the recent Madras High Court verdict that made Vande Mataram compulsory in all schools, colleges and universities at least once a week, which too was questioned and criticised by several people. This Firstpost article also argues that the constitutionality of such a verdict is unclear.

"The court’s job is to give pronouncements according to the laws of the land. From which law of the land do these singing frequencies of once a month or Monday/Friday originate? What is a valid reason for not singing the song? Is the refusal of a Tamil to compulsorily sing praises of Mother Bengal a valid reason? The song is in Bangla. Which article of the Constitution states that a Tamil must know a certain Bangla song? If a Tamil doesn’t know a Bangla song (a Bangla song translated into Tamil is still a Bangla song) or refuses to learn it, what article of the Constitution forces anyone to learn Bangla? None, as far as I know," the article reads.

The same argument can perhaps be made for the BMC schools in Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra. Why should a Maharashtrian child be expected to learn and know a Bengali anthem?

The Opposition too has asserted that the move was "unacceptable", however, later clarified that they aren't  opposing Vande Mataram but the way it is being implemented in the city is unconstitutional.  The Opposition is planning to meet the commissioner and put across their point in the coming week.

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 08:30 AM

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