In the runup to the 2023 Assembly polls, the state has been witnessing a series of issues in different spheres with the education sector seeing a storm of ‘controversies’, from the revision of textbooks to the government allowing ‘Ganeshotsava’ at schools and colleges. In an interview with TNSE, Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh said, “Whenever BJP comes to power and tries to teach nationalism and patriotism to students, certain forces oppose it.” Excerpts:
Whether it is ‘hijab’ or textbooks or Ganeshotsava, it is the education sector which suffers. Why?
Whenever BJP comes to power and tries to teach nationalism and patriotism to students, there are forces that oppose it. Some poets raked up an issue of Textbooks Revision Committee former chairperson Rohit Chakratirta forwarding a distorted version of ‘Nadageethe’ on social media some years ago. But they did not have any problem with Baraguru Ramachandrappa twisting the ‘Rastrageethe’ with his own annotations. It is double standards as they want to oppose the government for the sake of opposing. But whenever BJP has come to power, the state has received good rain, and farmers are happy as they are also getting Rs 10,000 including Rs 6,000 from the Centre.
But after the issue was raised, you revised the textbooks...
There were small errors by the Chakratirtha committee that were set right. Yet, falsehoods were spread that the chapter on Narayanaguru was removed. But we have just shifted it from social sciences to Kannada to reduce the burden on teachers, as they were complaining.
Now, Ganeshotsava has become an issue as you have allowed it to be celebrated in schools...
Ganeshotsava is not an issue, but so-called secularists always create some problems. In 1893, Balagangadharanatha Tilak brought the Gangesha festival to the social sphere as part of the nationalism movement. It was to unite the Indian society to fight against the British and in a similar exercise, Saraswathi pooja too was celebrated in schools before the Independence.
Now, BJP-backed Wakf Board chairman Shafi Saadi wants Eid Milad and namaz allowed in schools...
Everyone has a freedom to put forth their demands, but it is the government that decides. Even if Hindus want it, religious practices like Ayyappa puja and Ugadi cannot be allowed in schools. The court has clarified it and the Karnataka Education Act too does not allow such religious practises.
The VD Savarkar issue has cropped up now...
Savarkar was a great man whose entire family sacrificed for the Independence. If someone chooses to carry his photo on posters, the government has nothing to do with it. Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah should explain why Savarkar’s posters cannot be put up in ‘Muslim areas’. Are these all their private property?
Will these issues adversely affect BJP in the polls?
Not at all. BJP has always ruled for the welfare of people. Leaders like Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya had envisioned ‘antyodaya’ or the welfare of the last person in society. We don’t create programmes for the sake of winning polls.
What was the reason for the order making the national anthem mandatory in schools?
Some educational institutions, which have the minority status, did not follow the rules. If they violate the rules, we know how to deal with them as per the provisions of Karnataka Education Act.
But the department did not have money for shoes and socks for students.
It’s wrong to say that, as we have already issued the orders. We had said our focus is on qualitative changes in education. We will spend Rs 46 crore on shoes and Rs 176 for ‘Kalika Chetarike’ and the latter is more important for us. We have also been thinking of arranging the transportation for students.
What about the distribution of eggs?
We have been distributing eggs to children for the last three months by utilising Rs 40 crore central grants. We care for the health and nutrition of children following PM Narendra Modi’s vision.
What will be the impact of appointment of former CM BS Yediyurappa as a member of the central parliamentary board on the polls?
As a cadre-based party, BJP runs on its organisational strength. Yediyurappa’s appointment is definitely an added advantage. For us, it’s routine.