Terming the study tour for schoolchildren from other backward classes and minority community launched by the Congress government as discriminative, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday set November 19 as deadline for the government to withdraw the scheme.
“We will launch a State-wide protest if the government fails to withdraw the scheme by November 19,” BJP State president Pralhad Joshi told a press conference here on Friday.
Pointing out that uniforms for schoolchildren had been adopted mainly to prevent discrimination, he wondered how could the government think of a study tour that is discriminative. Stating that this was a result of intellectual bankruptcy and lack of commonsense in the ruling Congress, he demanded that the programme be withdrawn immediately.
Stating that the Congress government, led by Siddaramaiah, was yet to “take off”, he said that the Chief Minister was trying to divert public attention from such failures by taking up schemes such as the study tour and the anti-superstition bill.
Mr. Joshi also cautioned Janata Dal (S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy against talking lightly about BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Referring to Mr. Kumaraswamy’s remarks that his party would not support Mr. Modi, he said that the BJP would never seek his support. “It was the Janata Dal(S) that had sought our support on its own for the by-polls to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Council,” he said.
On Thursday, the party alleged that the ruling Congress government was dividing schoolchildren on caste and communal lines by organising study tours.
The government issued an order on November 6 directing the district authorities to organise the study tour, Karnataka Darshan, for students from other backward classes and minority community. About 9,000 students, 300 from each district, would be selected for the tour which would cost Rs. 3.15 crore to the Exchequer.
Addressing presspersons here, BJP MLA and former Minister S. Suresh Kumar alleged that the Siddaramaiah government was sowing seeds of casteism and communalism among schoolchildren by identifying children on the basis of caste and community for study tours. On what grounds students from other castes and communities have been left out? he asked.
The BJP leader demanded that the order, which was “anti-social”, be withdrawn immediately. The order, issued by the Tourism Department headed by Minister for Tourism R.V. Deshpande, was against the spirit of equality and principles of the Constitution. The Congress, which peaches secularism, should select students from all communities and castes for the tour, he said.
The Congress government has been preaching “divide and educate” policy by denying the facility for other meritorious students. Identification of students on caste and community lines for the tour was a dangerous trend, Mr. Suresh Kumar said.
To create awareness about various historical events, the Education Department conducts study tours every year and takes students in batches to sites of historical places and monuments.