Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has once again taken on the centre, this time on its move to air Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech live at colleges and universities. The state government has directed all the universities and colleges under its jurisdiction to ignore the directive of University Grants Comission (UGC) to arrange live telecast of Modi’s speech on September 11 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
“The Centre cannot do it without informing or without taking the concurrence of the state government concerned,” said Partha Chatterjee, state education minister at a press conference at Nabanna (state secretariat) on Friday.
“It is not acceptable to us, since we feel that this is a clear attempt of saffronisation of education. The colleges and universities in the state were surprised by the recent UGC circular. Then they approached us. I have clearly told them that there is no necessity to adhere to the UGC directive,” said Chatterjee.
UGC has sent a circular and asked over 40,000 institutions to live telecast the speech. Recently, just before the Independence Day, West Bengal government instructed schools in the state not to follow centre’s circular building ‘mass fervour’ around PM’s ‘New India Mission’ and administering a ‘Sankalp se Siddhi’ pledge to all students. It also rejected suggested format for celebrations to mark Independence Day.
The Union Human Resource Development Ministry had written to all states on August 7 to create a “patriotic mood” by holding events between August 9 and 30 to realise the vision of a ‘New India’. At that time, state education minister Partha Chatterjee had stated the state government is not bound to follow the directives of the Union government on this matter.
“We do not need lessons on patriotism from the BJP. Independence Day will be celebrated here this year in the same manner that it is celebrated every year,” he told The Indian Express.