Despite opposition from some political parties and their representatives, the general body of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) on Thursday passed a proposal to make singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ compulsory in civic schools.
The proposal will now be forwarded to the BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta, and will come into effect after he gives his administrative nod.
BJP corporator Sandeep Patel tabled a notice of motion, which was supported by the ruling Shiv Sena, and Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar approved it.
It proposes to make singing the national song compulsory in civic-run and aided schools twice a week.
The Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) corporators boycotted the proceedings, alleging that they were not allowed to put forth their views.
“A recent Madras High Court ruling, which made singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ mandatory in the schools of Tamil Nadu, gave me the idea that if it can be done there, then why not in Mumbai,” Patel told PTI.
“So, I tabled the motion and I am grateful that the mayor approved it after finding enough support for it,” said the first-time corporator from the Goregaon area.
“We need to instill a sense of patriotism in our youth as they should remember the glorious period of our freedom struggle,” the BJP member said.
However, the group leader of main opposition Congress, Ravi Raja, alleged that the BJP and the ruling Shiv Sena were “trying to impose” their will on everyone.
“We don’t oppose singing of Vande Mataram in schools, but the way it is going to be imposed, we object to that. This would violate our fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution and therefore, I am going to write a letter to the municipal commissioner,” he said.
SP’s group leader in the House Rais Shaikh said the move was “unacceptable” and a “murder of democracy”.
“Let me clarify that we are not opposing Vande Mataram. Whenever and wherever it is sung, we give it due respect. What we are opposing is it being made mandatory,” he said.
“The word ‘vandan’ means puja and puja is synonymous with Durga Puja. Muslims do not worship anybody else apart from Allah. That is why I opposed the proposal,” Shaikh was quoted saying.
The Madras High Court ruling had triggered a political slugfest in Maharashtra Legislature, with a BJP MLA demanding its implementation in schools and colleges, while the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and SP MLAs opposed the proposal.
A similar proposal to make singing Vande Mataram compulsory in civic schools was rejected by the then MCGM chief in 2004.