The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nationalists go nanananana
- BJP singer forgets anthem, Kerala victim forgives

Sept. 28: To err is human, the BJP has just discovered. But it has taken a man who lost his job because of the party to show that to forgive is also human.

After a singer at a BJP felicitation forgot the lines of the national anthem, P.M. Jaleel said: 'One must accept human fallibility in all endeavours, however well-intended they are. Anyone can make an omission.'

Jaleel had to step down as director of the Kerala State Council for Education Research and Training after the BJP raised a storm over the omission of 'Gujarat' from the anthem in a textbook.

Yesterday, at a meeting in Delhi to congratulate Uma Bharti on her tiranga yatra, the singer forgot the line 'Dravida Utkala Banga' and went 'nananananana' instead as L.K. Advani, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Uma looked on.

Jaleel today said: 'I would not blame the BJP which bungled in the anthem recitation, although the same sections had raised a hue and cry over an inadvertent printing mistake in a Kerala school textbook.'

By the time the singer ' a BJP worker whose name no one remembered today ' got to the next line, the crowd had begun dispersing instead of standing at attention.

Nor was the anthem bungle the only one at the show organised by the self-declared torchbearer of nationalism. The organisers appeared to have forgotten that the Tricolour must be brought down at sunset. Somebody suddenly remembered the rule when it was already dark and brought the flag down with a jerk from the pandal where the leaders sat, spread it on the ground and folded it.

Siddharth Singh, who is in charge of the BJP's media cell, played down the incident. 'It was a human error. The singer probably got nervous when he saw the crowd and forgot his lines. No intentional dishonour was meant.'

But the same party had seen a conspiracy of the Left and the Muslim League in the omission of a word from a school textbook. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Venkaiah Naidu had even threatened to launch an agitation if chief minister Oommen Chandy did not make amends for the 'gross disrespect' shown to Gujarat.

Chandy rectified the error and informed Modi. P. Jaleel was asked to step down six months before his term ended.

Jaleel, who is the dean of education at Mahatma Gandhi and Kannur universities, had pointed to his secular background to stress that the slip was not intentional. He owns a stretch of land where stands a mosque that all pilgrims who climb the hills to reach the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala go round, commemorating the traditional bonhomie between Muslims and Hindus.

Now it is the turn of Chandy and the Left to seek an apology. After all, the BJP singer forgot 'Dravida', which includes Kerala, and 'Banga', where the Left rules.

The Congress, which was at the receiving end of the Kerala row, hit back today. Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: 'The BJP resorted to every political gimmickry, including yatras. But it has humiliated the flag and forgotten the lines of the national anthem.'

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