Amid row, Karnataka CM Bommai says no fresh textbook panel
“The Congress will not allow textbooks that will be fatal for Karnataka’s diversity,” Rahul Gandhi said in a series of tweets in Kannada. ‘”People of Karnataka have always followed social justice and ideals of unity and humanity propounded by great beings,” he said.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday ruled out constituting a new textbook review committee after dissolving the existing one, even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched an attack on the state government’s move to revise books to teach children ideas that go against the life and identity of great beings.
“No, there is no question of constituting a new textbook revision committee,” Bommai told reporters at Devarakotta helipad in Hiriyur in Chitradurga district.
In a series of tweets in Kannada, Rahul Gandhi said, “The Congress will not allow textbooks that will be fatal for Karnataka’s diversity.”
‘”People of Karnataka have always followed social justice and ideals of unity and humanity propounded by great beings,” he said. “The BJP is trying to use textbooks to teach children ideas that go against the life and identity of great beings such as BR Ambedkar, Buddha-Basavanna, Narayana Guru and Kuvempu,” Gandhi said, adding that the future of children was given to “ineligible hands.”
He said the revised textbooks have excluded lessons on social justice, regionalism and gender equality. “The attempt to teach children saffonised lessons is an insult to India, which is the cradle of diversity,” he said, adding that Congress is committed to protecting Kannada and its writers.
Karnataka government is treading on Basavanna’s path, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai had said on Thursday in connection to the ongoing controversy over the editing of lessons on Basvannna -- social reformer and founder of Lingayat faith. Talking to reporters in Chitradurga, he said any anomalies in the review of textbooks would be taken seriously and they would be rectified based on facts.
He said many seers have conveyed their views on the revised textbooks and appropriate action would be taken after considering them. Bommai on Friday disbanded the school textbook revision committee amid growing controversy over the content in the books in the BJP-ruled state.
“The current textbook revision committee has been disbanded as the current textbook revision has been completed,” Bommai said in an order that came in late on Friday night.
The government order said the government has an open mind to revise any objectionable issues in the current textbooks and that a decision has been made to appropriately revise the issues pertaining to Basvanna.
The committee headed by Rohit Chakrathirtha had come under sharp criticism from various quarters, including academicians, writers, seers and political leaders.
The government and textbook review committee chairperson Chakrathirta had been accused of excluding historical personalities like Bhagat Singh, Narayan Guru, Periyar and several others and including chapters on the likes of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder KB Hedgewar, which was seen as an attempt to distort history and saffronise school education.
“Ours is a government treading on Basvanna’s path. There are many vachanas in the textbook and we have reviewed them. There is a difference of just one sentence between the text reviewed by the Baraguru Ramachandrappa committe in 2015 during the Congress regime and the present one. The rest of the text is the same, including the mention of Lingadheekshe, as it was earlier,” Bommai said.
“It is the wish of everyone to see that Basavanna and his Vachanas are presented in their real form. We will hold discussions with all the sections in this regard,” Bommai said.
Replying to a question on Hedgewar, Bommai said, “The lesson on Hedgewar too would remain in the textbook.”
Leaders of the Lingayat community in Karnataka have written to Bommai over the editing of lessons on Basavanna from the school textbooks. Members of the communities have threatened state-wide protests “if the misinformation on Basavanna is not removed from the textbooks”.
Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami of Sanehalli Mutt has written an open letter to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, in which he has pointed out how the text has been edited.
According to the letter, in the “Bharatada Mata Pravartakaru” chapter of the revised Class 9 social science textbook, the part on Basavanna’s criticism of caste hierarchy in society and the fact that he started the Lingayat religion to counter caste has been changed.
“Lines like Basavanna was a strong critic of caste hierarchy who threw the sacred thread after the ceremony, he propounded Veerashaiva philosophy based on humanitarian values setting aside all the rituals and hierarchy in the original vaidika dharma, have been removed. Also, the new text says he reformed Veerashaiva mata, which is wrong. It had to be that he established Lingayat dharma,” he wrote in the letter.
Former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy on Saturday said the BJP-led government in the state is creating controversial issues unnecessarily, adding that he is “disappointed in the way” the administration is functioning.
“I don’t know why the present Karnataka govt is unnecessarily raising several controversial issues. I’m disappointed in the way this govt is running. There are several common problems but they (govt) leave them and pick such issues,” he said.