According to a notice on the UGC website, Ministry of Human Resource Development has issued a directive to all higher educational institutes in the country to observe and celebrate 31st of October as “Nation salutes Sardar Vallabhai Patel”.
The directive asks the institutes to organise programmes and events based on the theme of unity to showcase how Sardar Patel maintained unity even in a diverse country like India and create a single political, socio-economic and administrative entity for governance under independent India.
The institutes have been asked to conduct a ‘unity run’ and send pictures and videos of the events organised to UGC.
Unsurprisingly, the Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal Government has asked the varsities to ignore the Central Government directive and celebrate the occasion as they deem fit.
The Education Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Partha Chaterjee said,“The Union government has no right to enforce anything on us. Paying tribute or respect cannot be on the basis of any directive from anyone. We specially take objection to the directive on video-recording the event and sending the same to the UGC.”
However, this controversy does seem like a forced one, in a bid to oppose the central government since the directive to celebrate ‘unity run’ or ‘Rashtriya Ekta Divas’ on 31st October is not new.
Even in 2014, a UGC directive read,“We are all aware of Sardar Patel’s contributions to India’s unity, safety and security. As a mark of honour… you are requested to organise different events on October 31 on the campus.”
In fact, the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014 had even uploaded photograph of “Run for Unity” being organised at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, West Bengal.
This is not the first time that the Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government has opposed nationalist and positive directives of the Central Government in a terrible syndrome of cutting the nose to spite the face.
In May, 2017, West Bengal became the only state that refused to participate in Modi Government’s cleanliness survey.
In September, 2017, Mamata Banerjee and her Government asked its colleges to ignore the UGC directive to telecast PM Narendra Modi’s speech commemorating the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
And in August 2017, Mamata Banerjee’s government asked schools to ignore the ministry of human resource development’s circular, asking schools to organise a set of programmes revolving around Independence Day.
It would seem like Mamata Banerjee is deliberately issuing bizarre diktats against following the central government’s instructions in an attempt to oppose every move of the Modi Government. Perhaps it would bode well if the West Bengal Government started thinking of the betterment of it’s people rather than opposing every central government move simply for the optics of it.