Maharashtra government stirs controversy over distribution of copies of ‘Bhagavad Gita’ in Mumbai colleges

Mumbai: The Higher Education Department of Maharashtra has stoked a new controversy by issuing a circular on distribution of copies of ‘Bhagavad Gita’ in 100 colleges across Mumbai. This move of the department has not got down well with the Opposition, which has accused education minister Vinod Tawade of propagating one ‘particular’ religion.

The department, through its circular dated July 11, has decided to hand over the free copies of Bhagavad Gita to colleges that have A & A+ grade. Abu Azmi, the leader of Samajwadi Party, condemned the decision and has sought sacking of the Joint Director of the department. “I have no objection to distribution of the sacred book, but I fail to understand why they decided only to distribute the Gita. Why cannot they distribute Quran and Bible as well,” Azmi told reporters in Nagpur on Thursday.

“Let the students read what they want to. I believe the government must not mislead students in the name of religion,” Azmi added. He further accused the ruling BJP of propagating its views through this decision. “The BJP is only preparing for the 2019 elections by doing this,” Azmi said.

The man of the hour – Vinod Tawde — has however, rubbished the news of him ‘directing’ the department to issue such a circular. He claims that the government has not issued any such circular. Nor has he granted any financial aid to Bhakti Vedanta Book Trust, which proposes to distribute the copies of the book.

“We had received a proposal from the trust to distribute free copies of Bhagavad Gita. We never funded the move and instead asked them to distribute the copies at their cost. We have only helped them with the list of colleges,” Tawde said in a press statement. The minister further clarified that the government has not issued any leaflet or circular to this effect. However, a visit to the department’s website nullifies his claims, as the circular can still be viewed on the site.

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