Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan announced on Tuesday that the government would withdraw the notification to introduce verses from the Bhagavad Gita in Urdu textbooks for classes 1 and 2.
Mr. Chouhan told reporters, a few hours before his Iftar party, “The allegations of communalisation are untrue and this is a canard being spread against my government in an election year. This order will be rescinded now to end this controversy.”
The party was hosted for 5,000 people, including Muslim clerics from major cities in the State. The government had ordered introduction of the Gita in English, Hindi and Urdu textbooks last week. Last month, verses from the epic were included in the syllabi of classes 9 to 12 under the State board.
The inclusion of the Gita in Urdu textbooks would have led to it being taught in madrasas.
Late Monday night, the government issued a press note which stated: “In Urdu textbooks, only two messages of Gita have been included. One is “Niyata: Kuroo Karm Twama:” and “Kartvyaprayanta.” The lesson teaches schoolchildren not to bunk school to while away their time in sports. Another lesson “Paraspara: Bhavyanta: Shreyah” gives the message “Come! Let us live in harmony.” This lesson is about blind and disabled persons. None of these lessons is of religious or communal nature.” The note added that projects on teachings of other faiths were also part of the curriculum.
The Opposition Congress had condemned the move as an attempt to disrupt communal harmony to divert attention from corruption and alleged mismanagement of the school education department.
On Tuesday, the Congress and minority groups welcomed the decision to rescind the order. A senior BJP MP told this paper that Mr. Chouhan’s decision was in line with the essence of the Gita that the acceptance of its moral standards should be voluntary.