Mamata Clashes With Centre Over I-Day Celebrations in Schools
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. (Photo: Reuters)
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. (Photo: Reuters)

Mamata Clashes With Centre Over I-Day Celebrations in Schools

In a fresh confrontation with the Centre, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government has issued “urgent” instructions to all schools and other educational institutions to “stop all preparations” for celebrating Independence Day 2017 in a format prescribed by the Union HRD Ministry.

The state government’s response to the circular issued by the Human Resource Development Ministry came in the form of a directive to all District Project Officers in-charge of the Sarva Shikha Mission in the state.

Virtually negating the Union ministry circular for celebrating the 70th year of India’s independence with certain “additional participatory activities in schools and colleges”, the state government directive issued on 11 August noted: “It has been decided by the School Education Department that Independence Day 2017 will not be celebrated in this manner” and asked schools to carry on with their usual mode of celebrating the occasion like every year.

Claiming that the people of Bengal do not need lessons on patriotism from the BJP, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Sunday said the centre’s ruling party has no right to give instruction to others about how Independence Day should be celebrated.

Also Read: UP Govt Asks Madrassas to Celebrate I-Day, Takes Photos & Videos

We are not necessarily opposing the centre’s proposal. But we have said that we will celebrate in our own way. We will not take lessons on patroitism from the BJP. The party at the centre has no right to give whip and dictate others about patriotism.
Partha Chatterjee, West Bengal Education Minister

“We are not necessarily opposing the centre’s proposal. But we have said that we will celebrate in our own way. We will not take lessons on patroitism from the BJP. The party at the centre has no right to give whip and dictate others about patriotism,” Chatterjee said.

He also said the ministry’s proposal of videographing celebrations in all the schools in the state is not realistic and can not be followed.

“It is not possible to conduct the proposed videography of the celebration of the entire 2 lakh schools,” he said.

Stating that there was nothing new in the circular, Chatterjee, also the Trinamool Congress Secretary General, said it was not needed as most of the points mentioned there were already a part of Independence Day celebrations in all institutions in the state for many years.

There is no counter circular from us. But we have said that we do not need an MHRD circular on how to celebrate Independence Day. Independence Day will be celebrated in schools, colleges, offices and factories in Bengal this year in the same way it has been celebrated over the last 69 years.

Also Read: Watch: BJP Min Wants Kids to Sing Vande Mataram, But Won’t Himself

Javadekar Slams Banerjee

The Human Resource Development Ministry had issued a circular on 25 July to all state Education Secretaries asking every school to arrange a “Sankalp programme” from 9 August to 30 August and organise an oath-taking ceremony where all teachers and students would have to take a vow to rid the country of the five problems of poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism and casteism by 2022, when the nation would be celebrating 75 years of freedom.

The BJP, however, lashed out at the Trinamool Congress government, alleging the violation of the central government’s directive on Independence day celebration “falls under the anti-national category”.

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar criticised the Bengal government for refusing to organise the events as per the centre’s circular and termed the decision as “unfortunate” and hoped that “wisdom will prevail”.

I am shocked at the language of the letter (issued by the West Bengal government)... It is very unfortunate that it has decided not to celebrate Independence Day ‘in this manner’, what is wrong with the manner that we suggested?
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar

“We are seeing some disturbing tendencies. The state government is behaving as if West Bengal is not a part of India. There is a tendency to defy all rules and regulations. This is a suicidal thought process,” said state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Dilip Ghosh.

“The state is behaving as if it is the last word on everything. They are free to oppose the centre. But it seems they have no understanding on what to oppose and what not,” he said.

Also Read: Sing Vande Mataram in Schools, Colleges Once a Week: Madras HC

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