Railway Minister Lalu Prasad may lecture Harvard students but the Bihar government has decided that he is not good enough for their curriculum.
The government has decided to do away with the chapter on the folksy and unconventional minister from the Class VIII syllabus after the recent review.
The chapter titled Mitti Ke Gaurav had been included in the Hindi textbook Gadya Sopan when Lalu was chief minister in 1993, on the recommendations of the editorial board of the Bihar State Text Book Corporation. Present RJD spokesperson Ramvachan Rai was then a member of the board.
Along with Lalu, the chapter contained the life sketches of two other former chief ministers of the state – Bhola Prasad Shashtri and Karpoori Thakur. The chapter will now be replaced with a life sketch of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, a 19th century social reformer and educationist. State human resource development minister Brishin Patel said the decision should not viewed as “political”. “It is just an attempt to provide better reading material to students. The contribution of Jyotiba Phule is much more than that of Lalu Prasad,” he said.
Principal Secretary, HRD, Anjani Kumar Singh said the move followed the state government’s decision to include the life histories of only those figures who have passed away in the syllabus. “Not much should be read into the decision. It was an old decision, which has been implemented now,” he added.
Sources said the Nitish Kumar government has been planning to remove the chapter on Lalu ever since it took charge. The piece was written by Bihar Administrative Service Officer Dr Harivansh Narayan, who is at present under suspension. The Election Commission had also barred him from election duty in 2005.
In the chapter, Lalu had been eulogised as a “jewel of Bihar”. The piece also describes him as Lord Krishna, while Lalu’s most trusted lieutenant Ranjan Prasad, who is now a staunch critic, was labelled Sudama. Several eulogies to Lalu were penned during the RJD’s 15-year rule in the state. Examinations have also been known to feature questions on him.
The RJD has decided not to protest. “This is an anti-poor government. How can it tolerate something on Lalu, who has risen from a poor background,” said RJD spokesperson Shyam Razak.