Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot accused the BJP government in Rajasthan of trying to wipe out “the creator of modern India” from history after reports that the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was removed from a school textbook.
It was reported that two new chapters, called National Movement, in the Class 8 social science textbook of schools affiliated to the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education excluded portions on Congress stalwarts such as Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and Madan Mohan Malviya.
“Those governments who try to remove creators of modern India from history textbooks will themselves get removed. The man who founded world’s biggest democracy and who went to jail for 10 years fighting for India’s independence is now being removed from history,” Gehlot said.
A report in a prominent newspaper mentioned that in the previous edition of textbook, the chapters on national movement included Nehru and other leaders prominently.
The new edition features Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and revolutionary Hemu Kalani. But Nehru is nowhere there.
The opposition Congress said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, was behind the move in Rajasthan to push its agenda to “saffronise education”.
“The RSS failed to register a place for itself in the glorious past of India’s resistance against the colonisers and they went to the extent of protesting against the Quit India movement,” Gehlot said.
“History resembles a mirror, the ones who fail to see their faces in the mirror are the ones who try to distort history.”
He said the right-wing Hindu organisation had isolated itself from the freedom struggle and yet it claims to be staunch nationalists.
Congress lawmaker Rameshwar Dudi, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Rajasthan assembly, criticised chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s government of pursuing a divisive and detrimental agenda.
“The BJP government in Rajasthan is touching a new low by omitting references to the freedom fighter and first Prime Minister of India,” he said.
Social groups and educationists too were unhappy with the Rajasthan school board’s decision to leave out prominent historical figures from the textbook.
“Whatever be the ideology of a political party, one cannot distort facts. Nehru was the first PM and no matter how hard one tries, this fact cannot be removed. A government that believes in distorting historical facts cannot function for long,” said Nisha Sidhu of Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, an NGO.
The BJP has been accused of doing the RSS’s bidding to “rewrite” history and push its own leaders into school textbooks since it came to power at the Centre in 2014.
“The BJP is constantly trying to distort facts and appropriate history according to their ideology, which is Hindutva. They are willing to teach Golwalkar and Godse in schools and remove Nehru and Naidu. This is highly condemnable,” said Annie Raja, the general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women.