Ramshankar Katheria, the junior minister in Smriti Irani’s HRD ministry, has said saffronisation of education as well as India will take place if it is good for the country.
The Union minister of state for human resource development made the controversial comments while addressing a function at the Lucknow University on Sunday to celebrate ‘Hindvi Swaraj Diwas Samaroh’ to mark the 342nd coronation year of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
“ ... shiksha me bhi bhagwakaran aur desh me bhi bhagwakaran hoga. Jo desh ke liye accha hoga wo hoga. Chahe wo bhagwakaran ho ya sanghwaad ho (I am saying there will be saffronisation in education and in the country. Whatever is good will definitely take place. Be it saffronisation or ‘sanghwad’, if it’s good for the country then it will definitely take place),” he said.
His can also be seen as a move to polarise voters in the poll-bound state.
“It is for the benefit of the country and whatever is good for the country... Call it ‘bhagwakaran’ (saffronisation) or ‘sanghwad’ if you will, but it will be done,” he said.
“We have been seeing this for a long time... Whatever is in the interest of the country, for the benefit of the country, on the basis of which the nation can stand with pride in the world, should it not be made part of the syllabus or should it not been taught to our children,” he said.
“If students do not read about Maharana Pratap or Shivaji, will they then read about Ghengis Khan?” he asked.
He said people like Shivaji inspired India’s independence. The minister also claimed that India’s history had been “tailored” to suit the “tastes of a few people” and called it “India’s greatest misfortune”.
He called seeing “sacrifices of national leaders” in a political light, “a growing disease” in the country.
“[BR] Ambedkar is seen as the personal property of one party, or of Dalits. In fact, Ambedkar is not just an ideal leader and nationalist for the country, but for the entire world,” he said.
Remembering the contributions made by several stalwarts in the freedom struggle, Katheria said they lived their lives for humanity and welfare of the nation.
He also took the opportunity to blame the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh for the state’s “educational backwardness”.
Katheria’s remarks came even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership has cautioned its leaders from making controversial statements as these deflect from the “development agenda” of the Modi government.