The Samajwadi Party has reached out to all political parties to build consensus in opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) proposal to make Yoga and Surya Namaskar mandatory in the 1,200-odd schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The party has also requested all ulemas in the city to ask their “Muslim corporators”, irrespective of which party they belong to, to oppose the BJP proposal.
On Thursday, Abu Azmi, legislator from Mankhurd and president of the state unit of the Samajwadi Party (SP), wrote the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seeking their support to oppose the proposal in the civic body. “We will oppose the proposal at all forums. It is not fair to impose the Surya Namaskar on students from all religions,” said Azmi.
The party also wrote the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to ‘discuss’ the issue. “I have requested that a meeting of all party leaders should be convened to discuss the proposal in detail and reject it. Whenever there is a discussion on the proposal in the general body meeting, I have also asked all these parties to vote against the proposal,” said Rais Shaikh, corporator from Govandi and senior SP leader in the BMC. A day earlier, Shaikh had said the BJP proposal amounted to “mixing religion and education”.
“We have also contacted the ulemas requesting them to ask Muslim corporators, irrespective of the party, in their areas to oppose the proposal strongly. We believe that religion should not be mixed with education. We will not allow this proposal to pass in the general body meeting of the civic body,” said Shaikh.
BJP corporator from Mulund Samita Kamble had moved the proposal a fortnight ago, saying Yoga and Surya Namaskar would help the students of the 1,285 BMC schools maintain fitness.
“Yoga is a world renowned exercise for fitness. Surya Namaskar is also categorised under Yoga. There’s nothing wrong in doing exercise for fitness. It’ll be wrong to give it any religious colour,” Kamble said, adding that she wanted to make these exercises mandatory in all civic schools, including the nearly 400 Urdu-medium ones.
While the Shiv Sena, the larger party in the BMC, said it would be better to offer martial arts training to students than Yoga and Surya Namaskar, the MNS is yet to take a stand on the issue.