BJP, BSP cross swords as fresh Vande Mataram row strikes a jarring note in UP | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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BJP, BSP cross swords as fresh Vande Mataram row strikes a jarring note in UP

A fresh political controversy erupted in Uttar Pradesh with former chief minister Mayawati accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of hounding her party’s Dalit mayor during the oath taking ceremony in which the BJP and the BSP stood divided on singing Vande Mataram, the national song.

lucknow Updated: Dec 14, 2017 14:55 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey and S Raju
Manish Chandra Pandey and S Raju
Hindustan Times, Lucknow/Meerut
Bharatiya Janata Party,Vande Mataram,Mayawati
A fresh political controversy erupted with former chief minister Mayawati accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party.(File Photo)

A fresh political controversy erupted in Uttar Pradesh with former chief minister Mayawati accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of hounding her party’s Dalit mayor during the Tuesday’s oath taking ceremony in which the BJP and the BSP stood divided on singing Vande Mataram, the national song.

Sunita Verma, the Meerut mayor belonging to the BSP, had refused to sing Vande Mataram during the oath taking ceremony. Her refusal angered the BJP corporators who started singing the national song in chorus. This was followed by chants of ‘Jai Sri Ram’. The BSP corporators, who were outnumbered by those of the BJP, retaliated with ‘Jai Bhim’, their party’s slogan.

Though the BJP failed to get its mayor elected in Meerut, its corporators outnumber those of the BSP. There 38 BJP corporators against 28 of the BSP in the 90-member corporation.

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party hardly have any presence in the Meerut Municipal Corporation, where independents stood third after the BJP and the BSP.

Some tension between the BSP and the BJP was also reported from the Aligarh Municipal Corporation where also the BSP defeated the BJP for the mayor’s post. In Aligarh, the BJP has demanded action against a BSP Muslim corporator for taking oath in Urdu.

But Meerut was the place where the major controversy erupted. With numbers on their side, the BJP corporators were angry at Verma’s announcement that she would reverse her predecessor Harikant Ahluwalia’s decision to make singing of the national song compulsory in the corporation.

The BJP corporators started singing Vande Mataram during the oath taking ceremony even as the BSP mayor remained seated.

“We respect the constitution but the manner in which the BJP tried to create chaos during the oath taking ceremony was most reprehensible,” Mayawati said.

The issue is expected to kick up political dust in the most populous state with the BSP likely to take up the issue during the winter session of the UP assembly beginning Thursday.

What’s more, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which has consistently favoured Vande Mataram, has already planned a mammoth show of strength in Meerut in February. The latest controversy could only spice up the political war between the BJP and the BSP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Yogesh Verma, a former BSP lawmaker and husband of the Meerut mayor, defended his wife’s decision not to sing Vande Mataram. He said in future too the proceedings of the Corporation would be carried on as per the constitution.

Verma found a ready backer in Mayawati who asked the government to explain if singing Vande Mataram was compulsory under the constitution.

Though Vande Mataram, penned by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, has been accorded the status of national song, its singing hasn’t been made mandatory under the constitution.

The BJP has always been in favour of singing the song as it sees the lyrics as an ode to the motherland. A section of the Muslims have cited religious grounds to justify their opposition to certain passages of the national song. In fact, seven Muslim corporators in the previous Meerut Municipal Corporation had defied the orders of the then mayor on singing it and had been suspended.

“What’s wrong with Vande Mataram? Mayawati and her party must make it clear if they have any problem with singing the song in praise of our motherland. There is nothing wrong with singing the national song and we are proud of our cadre who sang it,” UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 14:55 IST