Cong cries foul over removal of veteran leaders from textbooks

The BJP's decision to remove some historical names from school textbooks in Haryana is drawing a lot of criticism from the Congress

Rajendra Khatry May 19, 2016 08:14:06 IST
Cong cries foul over removal of veteran leaders from textbooks

Chandigarh: Last year, it was the allegation of 'saffronisation of education' that got the Manohar Lal-led BJP government, in Haryana, in trouble. The state government had announced plans to introduce the Bhagavad Gita in school textbooks and there was a lot of criticism over the promotion of just one religion in the state. Now, it is the removal of some historical names from school textbooks that is drawing a lot of criticism from the opposition.

The Haryana government has now decided to not include names of some former prominent state leaders from the Congress, the Haryana Vikas Party and the Lok Dal parties. According to sources, some under the state government plan to remove a chapter titled `Haryana Ke Gaurav’, from Class V Hindi textbooks. So far so good. The problem is this chapter contained achievements of well-known leaders such as Sir Chotu Ram, Ranbir Singh Hooda, Devi Lal and Bansi Lal.

Instead of 'Haryana Ke Gaurav', another chapter named 'Gaurav Gatha' has been introduced. Instead of the former state leaders, achievements of some other leaders, not necessarily from Haryana, including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai and Lokmanya Tilak figure in the chapter. Incidentally, 'Haryana ke Gaurav' had been introduced in the textbook during the tenure of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in 2011.

Cong cries foul over removal of veteran leaders from textbooks

Representational image. Reuters.

There is more to the issue than meets the eye. There is no doubt that the removal of some of the previous names and introduction of new ones have political connotations. The deleted chapter contained names of relatives of some leaders who were in power earlier, but are now part of the opposition. One of the names in the deleted chapter was that of Ranbir Singh Hooda, who was the father of former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Similarly, the late Bansi Lal was the former chief minister and father-in-law of former cabinet minister and CLP leader, Kiran Choudhry. Devi Lal was also a former chief minister of Haryana and the grandfather of the present Leader of Opposition, Abhey Singh.

According to Congress leaders, the names of some leaders have been removed deliberately with a view to downplay their roles. "It is interesting to note that only names of relatives of the opposition leaders have been removed," Pawan Jain, Panchkula Congress spokesperson told Firstpost. Former Haryana minister and MLA, Geeta Bhukkal also flayed the BJP's move to remove names of some prominent state leaders.

Talking to Firstpost, Rann Singh Mann, Haryana Congress spokesperson criticised the BJP government’s move, saying this had been done with an ulterior motive and vengeance. He said that the names of leaders that had been removed were stalwarts and had made great contributions to the development of Haryana.

Indian National Lok Dal All India Secretary General RS Chaudhary said that it is not proper for any government to do such thing and that even the previous Congress government in Haryana had indulged in the same antics. He added that leaders who have contributed to the growth and development of the state have a right to be known and questioned how students will learn about these leaders if their names are omitted from the textbooks. "The BJP government should rethink its decision of removing names of respectable leaders. Otherwise, the state government should state that we are only including names of contemporary leaders and not including past leaders, even if the world considers them great," said Chaudhary.

Criticising the BJP government's move, the Leader of Opposition Abhey Chautala said there was no need for such a move. An unnecessary controversy has been deliberately created by the government, said Chautala. He said the BJP government is capable of making such moves that leads to ill-feelings among communities.

However, a senior official of Haryana government said that the books were changed following recommendations by a committee that had members of NCERT and SCERT. He said that books were recently changed keeping in mind the pattern followed by NCERT. There was no political motive behind it, he clarified.

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