The politics over the alleged removal of Jawaharlal Nehru from school textbooks in Rajasthan intensified on Monday as education minister Vasudev Devnani hit back at critics for seeking “cheap publicity”.
Devnani said the allegations regarding removal of the former Prime Minister from social sciences textbooks of Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education were baseless.
“In the newly published book, the contribution of Nehru has been mentioned on page number 91 and 17. The social sciences textbook in question has two parts — Constitution-related part and unification of Indian states part. We have mentioned the efforts of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel in the second part,” he said. “Those who have not read the book should not comment to seek cheap publicity.”
A controversy erupted on Sunday after reports emerged that two new chapters titled ‘National Movement’ in the social sciences textbook for Class 8 excluded portions on Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Madan Mohan Malviya and other prominent Congress freedom fighters.
Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, leader of Opposition Rameshwar Dudi, state Congress president Sachin Pilot and civil activists criticised the Vasundhara Raje government for alleged “saffronisation of education” by distorting historical facts for political vendetta.
Taking a jibe at Gehlot, Devnani said unlike Congress, the BJP doesn’t believe in belittling great men.
“Congress never gave any place to great leaders such as Hemu and Vir Sawarkar in the state textbooks. Such authors were assigned the task of writing books that were busy in pleasing their masters. These authors left the students of Rajasthan deprived of the stories of great freedom fighters and revolutionaries,” Devnani said on Sunday.
“The governments that belittle and forget great leaders are bound to get removed. That is the reason why Congress was ousted from Rajasthan,” he added.
Devnani also defended Raje saying that the priority of the government is to introduce education in politics and not vice-versa. “Our aim is to educate the children of state about local leaders and great men,” said Devnani.
However, educationalists and activists wrote an open letter addressed to Devnani, criticising the state education department for lack of accountability and transparency in changing the syllabus of state schools.
“New books were introduced in 2012 and therefore we are surprised that the minister decided to change the syllabus before five years,” said Kavita Srivastava, People Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL). “We demand to know whether the minister’s recent decision is not inspired by the RSS.”
A civil society body comprising PUCL, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti and retired professors have demanded a halt on the release of the new textbooks until it is reviewed at the national level by a committee of specialists.