Essay topic on quota sparks uproar in Madhya Pradesh Assembly, two officials suspended

In the Class XII Hindi language exam, held on Saturday, the controversial topic was among five topics on which the students had to write a 200-word essay.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Published: March 9, 2016 1:03 am

An essay topic ‘Caste-based reservation is dangerous for the country’ in a state board examination triggered an uproar in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Tuesday, with the Opposition gunning for the BJP government over its “anti-reservation agenda”.

In the Class XII Hindi language exam, held on Saturday, the controversial topic was among five topics on which the students had to write a 200-word essay.

Recalling RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on reservation, the Opposition alleged that the essay topic betrayed the BJP government’s stand, which is against the Constitution. While ordering an inquiry, Minister of State for School Education Deepak Joshi described the question as a mistake by the paper setter.

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Joshi later told The Indian Express that the government has decided to suspend the paper setter and the modulator, as only these two persons have access to the question paper before it is sent for printing. Every paper setter has to give an affidavit that he or she will not ask questions that promote enmity between castes and religions. The question concerned was in clear violation of the affidavit, so the government ordered immediate suspension, Joshi said. An inquiry has also been ordered in the matter.

The Assembly was adjourned twice by Speaker Sitasharan Sharma as senior minister Gaurishankar Shejwar and Congress MLA Mukesh Nayak engaged in personal barbs on the topic. Opposition MLAs tried to raise the issue immediately after the House paid tribute to former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma and former MP Pawan Diwan, but Speaker Sharma did not allow it.

The treasury benches insisted that once an inquiry has been ordered, there is no need to debate the issue, and accused the Congress of shying away from other important issues like losses suffered by farmers.

The BJP and Congress MLAs accused each other of being against the reservation policy. Congress legislators accused the government inside and outside the Assembly of implementing the “anti-reservation agenda” of the RSS, its parent organisation.

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