Buckling under pressure from the BJP, the Congress government on Thursday announced a bigger event for the recital of ‘Vande Mataram’ at the Secretariat on the first day of every month, just two days after Chief Minister Kamal Nath asserted that singing the national song was not a barometer of patriotism.
The BJP had in 2005 introduced the practice of mass recital of Vande Mataram at the Secretariat on the first working day of every month with government employees and officers attending the event organised by the General Administration Department. No recital was held on January 1, prompting the Opposition to question the patriotism of the Congress government.
Congress leaders on Tuesday had a tough time explaining why the monthly recital was not held. Kamal Nath later asserted that it was no longer compulsory to hold the event and that it was wrong to link patriotism with singing of Vande Mataram. The CM went on to say that the Congress does not need a certificate of nationalism because it fought for the country’s freedom.
However, his hand was forced by the BJP which held a protest outside the Secretariat Wednesday, with former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announcing that he would sing the national song on the first day of the Assembly session on January 7 along with 108 BJP MLAs.
BJP president Amit Shah had asked if the decision was aimed at “pleasing a particular community”. In a Facebook post, Shah asked if the Congress was making Madhya Pradesh, “the heart of Hindustan”, a centre of its appeasement policy and whether it was done at the instruction of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Congress govt blinks, BJP hits a high note
BY FAILING to organise recital of Vande Mataram at the State Secretariat on January 1, the Congress gifted an emotive issue to the BJP. While the omission could have been more oversight than by design, Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s assertion that singing the national song was not a barometer of patriotism fuelled the row. The BJP was quick to protest, and the Congress buckled, announcing a bigger event. Seizing the advantage, the BJP is now claiming a victory of nationalist sentiments.
On Thursday, CM Nath announced a bigger event for the monthly recital. The national song and national anthem will now be sung at the end of a procession that will start from Shaurya Smarak at 10.45 am and cover 1 km till the Secretariat premises. It will be accompanied by a police band which will play patriotic tunes and common people will also be able to join the procession.
The Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues will take turns to attend the event. The national anthem and the national song will also be recited on the first day of every month at the division and district headquarters. A government spokesman said the previous event was restricted only to government officers and employees but common people now will be encouraged to attend it.
Chouhan said the Congress government was forced to bow before the patriotism of the people. He said he will keep an eye on next month’s event. He said the BJP would continue to protest against such anti-national and anti-people moves. “The Congress may have rolled back its decision under pressure but the question remains that who was behind it: Rahul Gandhi or Kamal Nath? People should get the answer,” Chouhan said.