BHOPAL: The 13-year-old tradition of state government employees singing ‘Vande Mataram’ at the Secretariat in Bhopal on the first day of every month was broken on the first day of the new year on Tuesday — triggering a political controversy in the central Indian state.
While the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed new Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his government for ending the practice, the ruling Congress maintained that the Opposition was unnecessarily indulging in politics over the issue.
According to sources in the government, the practice had started in 2005 when veteran BJP leader Babulal Gaur was the chief minister.
If the first day of the month fell on Sunday, then the practice of singing the national song happened the next day in front of the ‘Mantralaya (secretariat)’.
On Tuesday however, no officials sang the song. It was also first day of the month since the Congress government came to power in MP.
Reacting to the development, state BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal tweeted that the rendition of Vande Mataram is organised by the General Administration Department (GAD) which is headed by CM Kamal Nath himself.
“Has it been on his direction? He (Nath) has recently said that he does not care for criticism. Is there next going to be a ban on ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chant,” he tweeted.
He added that it is another indicator of Congress following the politics of appeasement and vote bank strategy.
State Congress media cell deputy in-charge, Bhupendra Gupta, however tried to play down the matter.
“While the CM was out of town, the new chief secretary of the state, SR Mohanty, took charge on Tuesday owing to which officials and employees were busy. If the national song hasn’t been sung today, then it can be sung tomorrow. Why is the BJP playing politics over a non-issue,” said Gupta.
The practice of getting government officials to sing Vande Mataram outside the state secretariat on the first day of every month started in 2005 when veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader Babulal Gaur was the chief minister of the state. It was held the next day if the first day of the month was a Sunday or public holiday