Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhayay and Bharat Mata featured on the notebooks distributed among the students of government schools in Vadodara on Wednesday. As many as 1.62 lakh notebooks — distributed among 37,000 students in civic primary schools — had a picture of Upadhayay against colours of the national flag on the cover, while the back had a saffron map of India, in the midst of a ripple effect of words “Vande Mataram”. There was also a message on the back, attributed to Upadhayay, stating, “Bharat Mata is the pillar of our nationalism. If you disassociate the word ‘Mata’ from ‘Bharat’, the country is nothing but a piece of ordinary land”.
The notebooks were distributed as part of state government’s Kanya Kelavani (to promote education for girl child) and Shala Praveshotsav (school enrolment drive), which kicked off in the city from Maa Saraswati Primary School in Gadapura area. City BJP leader and VMC School Board chairman Keyur Rokadia said the idea behind printing a photograph of Upadhayay with a ‘Bharat Mata’ message was to “encourage” all Indians to view the country as their “motherland”.
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Rokadia said, “We have printed this message on the books as it will enable children to imbibe nationalism at a young age. The concept of Bharat Mata has nothing to do with religion. People who associate it with religion are not nationalists. For centuries, we have been addressing our country as ‘motherland’ or ‘Dharti Maa’. So, what is the problem in saying Bharat Mata Ki Jai? We have distributed the notebooks to all students, regardless of their faith as every house must get the noble message of Deen Dayal Upadhayay about the use of the word ‘Bharat Mata’.”
Among 37,000 students from 104 schools run by VMC, 10,000 belong to the Muslim community. The students also received school bags bearing photos of PM Narendra Modi, CM Anandiben Patel and flowing colours of the national flag, with a symbolic Ashoka Chakra.