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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

UP BJP ‘quiz’ on saffron ideologues, schemes kicks up controversy

The quiz is being organised across schools and colleges as part of the birth centenary year celebrations of BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya.

lucknow Updated: Aug 02, 2017 18:36 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP national president Amit Shah addressing a press conference at the BJP office in Lucknow on Monday.
BJP national president Amit Shah addressing a press conference at the BJP office in Lucknow on Monday.(PTI File Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is organising a first-of-its-kind quiz across schools and colleges in UP to ‘test’ the knowledge of students about saffron ideologues and schemes introduced by the Centre and the UP government.

However, the quiz being organised as part of the birth centenary year celebrations of BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya has kicked up a storm with the Congress asking the BJP to order a probe to find out who “murdered” Upadhyaya?

The query has a context. The 70-page preparatory booklet released by BJP president Amit Shah titled ‘Samanya Gyan Pratiyogita-2017’ being distributed in schools and colleges has a query relating to Upadhyaya’s death.

“Do you know who was the Prime Minister of the country when Deendayal Upadhyaya died?” reads a question which is followed by the answer – “Indira Gandhi”.

For the quiz, a 70-page preparatory booklet titled ‘Samanya Gyan Pratiyogita-2017’ is being distributed in schools and colleges which has a query relating to BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s death.

Criticising the BJP’s attempts to “saffronise education and impressionable minds”, former Congress lawmaker Akhilesh Pratap Singh said: “The quiz is being organised in the name of Deendayalji whose body was found on a railway track on February 1968 at Mughalsarai station in UP. Despite a CBI inquiry, his death remains a mystery with some even claiming he was murdered. Why doesn’t the BJP government at the Centre order a probe into it?”

Singh was hinting at the conspiracy theories about Upadhyaya’s death including the one flagged by former Jan Sangh leader Balraj Madhok who quit politics following differences with the faction led by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Why is BJP engaging in selective nationalism,” wondered Congress leader Devendra Pratap Singh.

“The preparatory booklet doesn’t have a mention of Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru while all saffron ideologues from Veer Savarkar to Hegdewar find a mention. Doesn’t it tantamount to distorting history? This is what the students would be made to learn to prepare for the test,” he said.

Undeterred by the criticism, the BJP claimed an overwhelming response to the exercise and said about 10 lakh students would take the 90-minute quiz comprising 100 questions.

The quiz will be conducted by about 2 lakh BJP workers on August 26.

“Having run out of public support, the Congress is frustrated. Their query isn’t even worth responding to. The kind of response we are getting from schools and colleges is overwhelming,” UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.

“How can the Congress say we are teaching students wrong history? All the points in the preparatory booklet are factually corrected and have been verified,” Pathak said.

Another question in the booklet reads: “Who was the first PM to be called to court and punished?”

The answer to this question has been mentioned as PV Narasimaha Rao.

The booklet also has information on Narendra Modi, the member of parliament from Varanasi. He is described as the most powerful and popular PM of the world.

About 10,000 schools have reportedly agreed to hold the quiz and since the registration is open till August 16, party leaders are hopeful that more colleges would join in.

The result of the quiz will be declared in September and top 10 students from each district will be felicitated with a medal and certificate. All those who secure above 60% marks will also be given certificates.

Some college principals and managers said they were yet to receive the booklet and information about the quiz while others felt this could open doors for other governments to use the same methodology to influence young minds.

“What I fear more is that this could open possibilities of other governments taking recourse to similar methodologies to influence young minds,” a college principal said.

Principal of Aminabad Inter College Sahab Lal Mishra and the principal of Queens Anglo Inter College Manoj Kumar said they were yet to receive the booklet.

Interestingly, the Yogi government in UP has also asked the district magistrates to help distribute literature on Deendayal Upadhyaya in schools, colleges and universities.

First Published: Aug 02, 2017 18:27 IST

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