Unholy ruckus over holy book
Opposition accuses BJP of trying to polarise the youth by distributing the Bhagavad Gita in colleges across the state
NAGPUR: The Opposition has alleged that the BJP government is trying to polarise youngsters on the basis of religion by distributing the Bhagavad Gita to college students in Maharashtra. The issue was raised by Congress MLAs Prithviraj Chavan and Naseem Khan in the Assembly. Chavan said the distribution of a holy book for free in colleges was an attempt to divide society. He said while the Centre was about to start a train service called Shri Ramayana Express, the state was doing its bit by allowing the circulation of the Hindu scriptures in colleges.
Khan said the government should stop the practice because people of other faiths, too, would start making similar demands. “Will you allow the distribution of the Bible and Quran if they ask for it?” he asked Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
The MLAs demanded that copies of the Constitution be given to students instead of the Bhagavad Gita. “This way the students will know about democracy,” he said.
Not us, says Tawde
Tawde later told media persons that a private entity, Bhakti Vedant Book Trust, had been distributing the Gita. “The government has no role in this. The Bhakti Vedant Book Trust had proposed the distribution of the scriptures, but the government rejected it saying official machinery could not be used for this job. We told the trust do it on its own. The government did not issue any resolution or notification. However, the book trust was provided with a list of colleges,” Tawde said.
‘Say Gita is a bad read’
Tawde dared the Congress, NCP and Samajwadi leaders to declare officially that the Bhagavad Gita was a bad read. “If they say so instead of making false allegations, we, too, will declare our official view,” he said. The minister said if permission was requested, his department would allow the free distribution of the Bible and Quran at state colleges.