The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Barbaric’ barb, history punch

Calcutta, Aug. 31: Guests of honour from the Delhi durbar are using platforms in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Calcutta citadel to castigate his Left Front government, the latest being Union human resources minister Murli Manohar Joshi.

He first returned a compliment Jyoti Basu had bestowed on the BJP government years ago, telling party workers in Howrah that the Left Front regime is “barbaric and thoughtless”.

He then attacked the government on education, in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had stung where it hurts most, Bengal’s business drain, at a function of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce in July as Bhattacharjee listened.

On a two-day visit to the city, Joshi ticked off the Left Front for politicising education and its “unabashed doctoring of history”.

The higher education syllabi in the state is “seeped in Marxist ideology”. “They (the CPM) have introduced Marx and Lenin in the curriculum but Gandhiji is left out,” he said, adding that Bengal has a negative attitude to modern education.

“Appointments are made on political considerations only. The posts of VC, Pro-VC and Syndicate members are reserved for party card holders,” he alleged. This affected educational reforms, which in Bengal were “three decades behind” compared to other states.

Keen to preserve their minority votebank, the government had issued instructions to delete the parts of history “which relate to the persecution of Hindus by Muslim rulers…. In effect, their pet historians have tried to rubbish the writings of stalwarts like Jadunath Sircar and R.C. Majumdar. National heroes or national history do not find a place in their thinking”, the minister said.

On other days, the Marxists have launched a similar attack on Joshi, accusing him of “saffronisation” of education and doctoring of history to highlight the RSS.

Grabbing his chance, Joshi crunched numbers today to show that “academic chaos” prevailed in Bengal, “primary education had been neglected completely” and “not a single person had qualified for the Indian Administrative Service this year” from the state that has “the largest number of job-seekers in the country”.

An upbeat Joshi, who clearly seemed in poll mode, contrasted the “exemplary” performance of the BJP-led NDA government with the poor growth in Bengal under the Marxists, slamming poor investment and describing transport as “hopeless”.

Stating that Mamata Banerjee is a “much wiser leader today”, he said the BJP’s ties with the Trinamul Congress will be strengthened in the coming days.

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