Under all round attack, the government on Monday announced an inquiry to fix responsibility over the inclusion of offensive cartoons of prominent political leaders including BR Ambedkar in the NCERT textbooks.
Responding to an impromptu discussion in the Lok Sabha, when MPs, across party lines, condemned what they saw as attempts to "denigrate the political class", HRD minister Kapil Sibal said he "fully appreciated such sensitivities and concerns".
"Henceforth, the government will take effective steps to ensure that only educationally appropriate material is included in textbooks," he said.
Earlier, during an hour-long debate, BJP's Yashwant Sinha demanded Sibal's resignation on moral grounds.
The minister said he had directed the withdrawal of the controversial textbook in April itself. "After a review in May, I came to the opinion that a review of all textbooks on political science as well as a general review of all NCERT books should be undertaken," he said.
Regarding the Class 11 textbook containing the offensive cartoon of Ambedkar, Sibal said he had directed the NCERT Director to withhold distribution on May 11 itself.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Harsimrat Kaur Badal (SAD) said young minds were being poisoned against the political class as part of a larger conspiracy. “This process started with the Anna Hazare movement.”
Lalu Prasad (RJD) said withdrawal of the cartoons was not enough. "What about students who have already read the cartoons and have formed a negative image of politicians.”
Congress MPs Sanjay Nirupam and Lal Singh joined the opposition chorus and demanded a clarification from Sibal.
Sharifuddin Shariq (NC) was the only member to strike a discordant note, said politicians were themselves responsible for being lampooned in cartoons.