The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM skirts song whip

Ranchi/Raipur, Aug. 29: Under pressure from its ally, the Janata Dal (United), the BJP government in Jharkhand is trying to steer clear of the Vande Mataram controversy.

Most states ruled by the BJP have sought details of the circular the Chhattisgarh government issued yesterday to make the singing of Vande Mataram compulsory in all schools on September 7.

The Gujarat government has asked for copies of the order, said a senior official in Chhattisgarh’s school education department, while some other party-ruled states had called up authorities in Raipur asking for it. The copies will be sent in a day or two, he added.

According to a senior BJP leader, the states sought the Chhattisgarh circular after a “whip issued by the party leadership in Delhi”.

However, the Munda government is as yet undecided.

Chief minister Arjun Munda remained non-committal, careful not to put his wafer-thin majority at stake.

“I have to check with the Union government for its stand. So I have not yet decided if rendition of the song should be made compulsory at every educational institution,” he told The Telegraph over phone from Mumbai, where he had gone to attend the wedding celebrations of Rahul Mahajan.

The Janata Dal (United) seems to be in no mood to sing along. “How can you make it compulsory'” asked Dal state president Jaleshwar Mahto.

Mahto, however, professed in no uncertain terms his love for the nation. “The song is a token of nationalism and the issue should have been settled at the national level by the Prime Minister himself,” he said.

But it will not be surprising if the Munda government stands out by being the only BJP-ruled state not to obey the high command’s whip. The chief minister has to keep his house in order and with mines minister Madhu Koda’s quit threat looming large, Munda can’t possibly risk the wrath of his Dal colleagues, sources said.

Human resource development minister Pradeep Yadav was also not too forthcoming. “I do not know why people are opposing it. I will discuss the issue with the chief minister,” he said.

State BJP chief Yadunath Pandey said the issue would be taken up at the coordination committee meeting.

Muslim religious leaders and madarsa teachers have vowed to defy any directive that could be issued by the government.

“We will not allow Vande Mataram in the madarsas,” said Mufti Md Anwar Kazmi, head of Imarat-e-Shariat.

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