HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

History books might change again: BJP

Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 23, 2013
First Published: 23:38 IST(23/6/2013) | Last Updated: 22:59 IST(14/7/2014)

In yet another sign of a nuanced shift towards its core agenda, the BJP has hinted that it will change textbook syllabi to highlight the roles of national leaders supposedly ignored by the Congress if it returns to power.

“We’ll try to have more on Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Sardar Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri in the syllabi if we come to power,” former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu said at a function in memory of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee two days back. “We tried to do this earlier too and will try it again,” he added.

He was referring to an earlier attempt by the NDA government to rewrite NCERT history textbooks prescribed for schools to correct what it saw as distortions introduced by Marxist historians who have come to dominate the social science academia since the 1970s.

The NDA initiative was widely criticised as an attempt to saffronise history. Professional historians also claimed that there were factual errors in the books put in place by the NDA. The books were discarded when the UPA returned to power and replaced by new ones.

The agenda of changing the syllabi is yet another hint of a subtle ideological hardening on the part of the BJP. Recently, it anointed a polarising Narendra Modi as its campaign chief for 2014 without bothering for the Janata Dal (United)’s threats, leading to the NDA splitting and getting reduced to a compact, right-of-centre alliance of political parties.

Naidu suggested that the Congress had glorified some leaders (meaning, from the Nehru family) but “ignored others”. Also present at the function, Rajnath Singh praised Mookerji as the “first martyr for the nation in post-independence India” – referring to his death in prison opposing special status for Kashmir. He bracketed him with Lokmanya Tilak as a leader who had made a seminal contribution.

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