The Telegraph
Saturday , May 31 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Modi ducks classroom call

May 30: Narendra Modi today opposed moves to teach his life in classrooms in some BJP-ruled states, saying “living individuals” should not be included in school curricula.

His stand, which contrasts sharply with the build-up around him in the past few years, comes at a time the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has returned to questioning the “personality cult” around him after providing some election-time leeway.

Madhya Pradesh school education minister Paras Jain, his Gujarat counterpart and the Rajasthan government had in the past few days gone public saying Modi’s life story would be part of school textbooks for Classes III to V.

Modi tweeted this morning: “I am reading in the news that some states want to include my life struggles as a part of their school curriculum. I firmly believe that the life story of living individuals should not be included as a part of the school curriculum.”

In another tweet, he wrote: “India has a rich history of several stalwarts who made India what it is today. Young minds should read about these greats and emulate them.”

When Modi was Gujarat chief minister, several books and comic series with him as the subject were published in the western state.

A spokesperson for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said Jain’s remark had been “personal”.

“At no point has the Madhya Pradesh government considered it,” he said.

But Jain’s junior minister, Deepak Joshi, conceded: “We were planning a chapter based on Modiji’s life after we came to know the Rajasthan government was doing so. Since Modiji does not want it, we are not going ahead with it.”

In Gandhinagar, education minister and Modi confidant Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said the Prime Minister had spoken to him in the morning.

“I have dropped the idea of incorporating a chapter on Modiji’s life in the school curriculum. I assured him that his wishes would be respected.”

Earlier, Chudasama had announced that key chapters of Modi’s life would be taught at primary schools.

“The chapters may include events starting from his birth, his humble family background, his school days, how he faced struggles at different stages of his life, and the circumstances behind his decision to become a monk,” he had said.

Sangh caveat

As a high-pitched build-up on Modi swamped cyberspace, the visual media and his rallies, the Sangh had kept quiet till the elections were done — barring one statement attributed to its chief.

Mohanrao Bhagwat was quoted by a newspaper as advising Sangh members not to keep chanting: “NaMo, NaMo.”

However, the quote was swiftly denied by Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav, who claimed that Bhagwat had merely said the Sangh should concentrate on issues and let the BJP focus on what it wished to.

But shortly after the poll results came out, former Sangh spokesperson M.G. Vaidya wrote in the organisation’s English mouthpiece, Organiser, that the Sangh “never had any place for hero-worship” and had “never practised a personality cult”.

At the end of his article, he broached the subject of the “personality cult” around Modi and whether it could be reconciled with the Sangh’s “traditions and culture”.

Vaidya’s expedient answer was that an election was a “special occasion” that required an “icon to attract voters”.

“Modi is that icon. And choosing him has proved fruitful,” he wrote. But he reminded Modi that he had been a Sangh pracharak and was, therefore, “aware of the fundamentals” of Sangh culture.

That, he added, meant distinguishing between the “eternal”, the “occasional” and the “exceptional”.

“Modi seems to have heeded the voice of the veteran from Nagpur,” a BJP source said.