In a discussion that panned for over two hours with more than 20 speakers, the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) passed a proposal making yoga and surya namaskar mandatory in all civic schools on Tuesday.
The ruling allies rejected the amendment demanded by opposition parties Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) to make it optional for schools.
SP also demanded deleting surya namaskar from the proposal.
The discussion follows a notice of motion mooted by BJP corporator Samita Kamble to improve the health of students by incorporating these traditional practices. While ally Sena had earlier demanded that martial arts be included in the proposal, it remained mum in the discussion at the general body meeting in BMC headquarters despite being the majority party.
BMC runs 1,188 primary and 49 secondary schools in Mumbai. This includes nearly 400 Urdu-medium schools.
The discussion also included references to the upcoming BMC elections and vote-bank politics played by both BJP and SP. Corporators alleged that BJP was trying to saffronise education, both, in the Centre and the states by introducing such proposals.
BJP corporators, however, argued that surya namaskar is yoga and does not have any religious colour. Dilip Patel, a BJP corporator said, “It has been internationally accepted that yoga is the best form of exercise. Bringing in religion is a political tactic by SP.”
Ritu Tawde, former education committee chairman and BJP corporator said, “Surya namaskar is a form of meditation. It will help children progress, both mentally and physically.”
The notice of motion will now be forwarded to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta who will send it to the state government with his comments.