| Ousted: Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has a competitor ' Raman Singh.
It is not known if Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief minister is aspiring to take the place of the Father of the Nation, but his picture has replaced that of Gandhi in textbooks distributed free by the state government to students till Class VIII.
More than half the books have already been given out under the Rs 72-crore scheme to provide free textbooks to more than 35 lakh students.
The move prompted a sarcastic barb from Bhupesh Baghel, the deputy leader of Opposition.
“The Chhattisgarh chief minister has proved that he is taller than the Father of the Nation,” he said.
The other books designed by the Chhattisgarh textbook corporation carry the photograph of Gandhi on the second page with the national anthem. But the books published for free distribution has the photograph of only Singh with his message. The national anthem has been shifted to the last page.
“This is not only an insult to Mahatma Gandhi but to the entire nation,” Baghel said, adding that he has brought the matter to the notice of the ministry of human resources as the free-book scheme of the state government comes under the Sarva Shiksha mission.
The Congress sees the move as a conspiracy by the Sangh parivar. Today, as the monsoon session began, party members raised the issue in the Assembly.
“Those who hatched the plot to kill Mahatma Gandhi had worked in the removal of his photograph from the textbooks,” said Nandkumar Patel, a former minister.
Patel said the chief minister should explain to the people of the state why Gandhi’s picture has been replaced. “Even the chapters related to the first martyr of the freedom struggle in Chhattisgarh, Veer Narayan Singh, and another noted freedom fighter, Sunderlal Sharma, have been removed from the English textbooks of Classes IX and X,” the MLA said.
Singh denied that there was a conspiracy to dishonour Gandhi.
“My picture has been published with a message for the students,” the chief minister said and added that he would continue to boost the “morale” of the children through such messages during the rest of his term.
Even textbooks published during the tenure of the previous Congress government had photographs of the then chief minister, Ajit Jogi, and the education minister, Singh pointed out.
“But,” retorted Baghel, the photographs were not published by “removing the picture of the Father of the Nation”.