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Mamata govt locks horns with Centre over Independence Day celebrations

West Bengal government instructed schools across the state to ignore a Union government directive on Independence Day celebration

india Updated: Aug 13, 2017 21:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,Narendra Modi,Independence Day
Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government instructed schools across the state to ignore a Union government directive on Independence Day celebration (PTI Photo )

The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government locked horns with the Centre over how to celebrate Independence Day on August 15 in schools across the state.

The state government instructed schools to ignore a directive issued earlier by the human resources development ministry asking education institutions to follow a centre- prescribed format for I-D celebration.

The state government took the stand amid the ongoing controversy over BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government making it compulsory for Madrasa students to sing the national song “Vande Mataram” on I-day.

In its circular, HRD ministry directed all educational institutions to conduct quiz contests, lectures and debates among others on the occasion. The schools were advised to submit supporting video recordings of the celebrations to the office of Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM) by August 31, 2017.

In the counter- circular issued by state school education department, (a copy of which is availed by HT), district project officers of the SSM, has been asked to immediately instruct all schools and educational institutions to stop making preparations for the celebration as per the format prescribed by the Centre.

“It has been decided by the state school education department that Independence Day 2017 will not be celebrated in that manner,” the state government circular reads.

West Bengal education minister Partha Chaterjee said the state government is not bound to follow the directive of the Union government on this matter.

“We do not need lessons of patriotism from BJP. Independence Day will be celebrated here this year in the same manner it has been celebrated all these years,” he said.

Another member of the state cabinet said on condition of anonymity that the counter- circular has been issued following an instruction from the chief minister herself.

Banerjee has been accusing the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre of destroying the country’s federal structure.

“Chief minister feels this is yet another attempt by the Centre to undermine state government’s authority. This is against the federal structure of India,” the minister said.

“She feels the Centre cannot dictate how schools of the state will celebrate Independence Day, since state governments are quite conscious of the importance of the occasion and how it should be celebrated,” the minister added.

The BJP said it was just another way of the chief minister to oppose Union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The party’s state unit president Dilip Ghosh speaking to HT said the state government was resorting to anti-national activities by issuing the counter circular.

“Is West Bengal out of India? The Union government provides major portion of funds under SSM and hence it has the right to enquire whether the funds are utilised properly or not,” Ghosh said.

First Published: Aug 13, 2017 19:13 IST