With a clear intent to take the Central government head-on, West Bengal state government has issued a circular which is in clear confrontation with the Union government’s directive to schools regarding celebration of Independence Day at schools.
In a recent circular, Union Human Resource Development (HRD) had directed educational institutions across the country to celebrate the 70th Independence of India in a particular format. The circular directed educational institutions to organise quiz contests, lectures, debates and other programmes to mark the day. Schools were also asked to videograph the celebration process and submit the video footages to the nearest Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM) office by August 31, 2017.
The state government’s education department, in turn, has issued another circular on August 11, directing project officers of SSM to direct all schools and educational institutions to stop preparations of Independence Day celebrations in conformity with the prescribed format by the Union government. The last paragraph of the state’s circular read, ‘It has been decided by the School Education Department that Independence Day 2017 will not be celebrated in this manner’.
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday shared a copy of the memo issued by the State Project Director of the West Bengal Sarva Shiksha Mission, which says that it has been decided by the school education department that Independence Day will not be celebrated in line with the Centre's circular.
"The language used in the West Bengal government's memo is strange and unfortunate. I will talk to them. What we have proposed is a secular agenda, not a political party agenda," he said.
Sources said that the state’s circular had been issued on the instruction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is currently at loggerheads with the Central government and is garnering forces against the BJP-led government for her ‘BJP Quit India’ movement. “The CM thinks that the Centre was trying to impose its authority on the state which is not how it should be. The CM believes that the Centre should not be directing the way I-Day is celebrated at schools in Bengal because people here are well-aware of the importance of the day,” said a senior TMC leader.
State Education Minister Dr Partha Chatterjee said that there was no hard and fast rule that states will have to toe the line of the Centre as far as the I-Day celebrations were concerned. “We will celebrate Independence Day according to our tradition what we had been doing for years. We don't need to take any lesson of ‘desh prem’ from the BJP. There is no hard and fast rule that we will have to ape what the Centre does to celebrate Independence,” he said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that in a bid to blindly oppose all the decisions of the Centre, West Bengal government had proved itself anti-national. “Why can't Independence Day be celebrated in Bengal according to how it is being done throughout the country? Is it out of India. The Centre provides huge amount of money in the SSM project and had full right to enquire about how those were being utilised,” he said.