Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Wednesday asked a minister and an MLA to immediately stop squabbling over the cultural merits and demerits of minority institution-run convent schools, a debate which has now taken on a communal colour here.
Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of a literary function, Parsekar said he neither supported nor believed the statement made by Factories and Boilers Minister Deepak Dhavalikar, who had said that education in convent schools took students away from Indian culture and Hinduism.
"They should stop immediately," Parsekar said when asked about communally sensitive comments made by Dhavalikar and MLA Caitu Silva.
Dhavalikar and his wife Lata, have over the last three days, publicly and repeatedly exhorted parents not to admit their wards in minority institution-run convent schools, as the education and atmosphere there weans children away from Hindu culture.
The duo has also asked women to wear 'kumkum' and sarees to avoid being eve-teased and said adoption of western culture leads to rape.
In an evident response on Wednesday, Silva, a Goa Vikas Party legislator from the Catholic dominated constituency of Benaulim, said Hindus staying away from convent schools would help Catholic students many of whom, he claimed, found it difficult to access even minority institutions.
"If Hindus don't want to send their children to convents better for us. There will be more seats for Catholic students to avail of a better education," Silva told reporters at the state secretariat.
Showing his displeasure at the communal exchange, Parsekar said that he would intervene in order to stop the squabble. "I will immediately speak to them to stop it... I do not support the statements and I do not agree with them."
"I have seen convent schools where abuses are common, and respected, disciplined (convent schools) too. It cannot be generalised," the chief minister further said.
Illustrating, Parsekar, who runs a school and a higher secondary school himself, said his educational institution - Harmal Panchkroshi - had over time gained popularity despite the fact that a convent school was situated next to it.
"We have two divisions right from lower KG... and the convent has only one division. If we do not take care of our schools, then there will be a rush there (convent institutions)."