Un­holy ruckus over holy book

Op­po­si­tion ac­cuses BJP of try­ing to po­larise the youth by dis­tribut­ing the Bha­gavad Gita in col­leges across the state

Mid Day - - CITY - DHAR­MEN­DRA JORE dhar­men­dra.jore@mid-day.com

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.

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