The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Maharashtra government has decided to buy supplementary reading material on Prime Minister Narendra Modi worth Rs 59.42 lakh for students up to Class 5, The Hindu reported. The state’s education department will spend Rs 3.25 lakh on books about Mahatma Gandhi, Rs 24.28 lakh on those about Dr BR Ambedkar, and Rs 22.63 lakh on Mahatma Phule material for government school libraries.
The purchases are part of the state’s decision to provide children access to books on “respectable figures”, The Asian Age reported.
The State Council of Educational Research and Training director Dr Sunil Magar defended the decision to focus on Modi-related reading material. “The books have been chosen by an expert committee on merit,” Magar told The Hindu. “Just because it is Modi, you are talking about it. But we have other books also.”
The Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, criticised the move. “It seems this government considers Narendra Modi to be bigger than Gandhi, Ambedkar and Phule,” Munde told The Hindu. “It is trying to occupy children’s imagination in these politically motivated ways.”
The state has reportedly cleared a proposal to buy a total of 72,933 copies of Chacha Chaudhary and Narendra Modi at the rate of Rs 35 each. It will also invest in copies of Pradhanmantri Narendra Modi.
Munde demanded that the BJP clarify its stance on the importance of Modi in comparison to Gandhi and Ambedkar. “The education department must understand that schools are not political battlefields,” The Asian Age quoted Munde as saying.
Attempts to contact State Education Minister Vinod Tawde for his comments proved unsuccessful, The Asian Age reported.
The state government has already been denounced for trying to portray a skewed version of history in textbooks.