Mumbai: The issue of making Surya Namaskar and singing Vande Mataram mandatory in schools were in debate when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was leading independent India's first government led by the BJP at the centre. As today, Muslims across the country opposed the move tooth and nail at that time too.
According to the reports, Vajpayee who was on a visit to Lucknow called on former rector of Nadwatul Ulema and then President of the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Syed Ali Miya Nadvi right at the renowned Muslim seminary.
Vajpayee reportedly sought Ali Miya Nadvi's support on the issue. But, the senior most cleric of the time turned down the former prime minister's request.
"No matter if all Muslim children remain illetrate. But, I can't allow them do any act which threaten or challenge their faith", Ali Miya Nadvi said to Vajpayee.
The accounts of Vajpayee's reported meeting with Syed Ali Nadvi is being posted and posted on social media after the issue is raked up once again - this time, by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday passed a resolution making Surya Namaskar and practicing Yoga mandatory for students in the BMC schools. But, the Muslim leaders and parents of the children studying in these schools are up in arms against the BMC resolution.
Though there are various options being contemplated to tackle the situation arising out of the BMC diktat - ranging from protest on streets to legal battle in court, there seems to be unanimity on one thing: Muslim children will no longer be studying in the BMC schools if the resolution is not revoked.
“BJP wants to bring Hindu customs in schools, which is a secular space, and wants to force the students to do things under the pretext of culture.
"We will take our children out of the school, if necessary, but we won’t let the BJP infiltrate into the minds of young children who should have the freedom to choose their religion and follow its customs,” Rais Shaikh, Samajwado Party (SP) corporator, said while opposing the resolution in the house which has the majority of BJP and Shiv Sena members.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) later organised a massive protest at Mumbai's Azad Maidan demanding from the BMC to revoke the controversial decision. Maharashtra SP President Abu Asim Azmi, who led the protest rally against Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) at Azad Maidan, announced on Friday that they will start a signature campaign and will not send children to civic schools if Yoga and Suryanamaskar was forced upon Urdu medium schools.
Abu Asim Azmi also announced to challenge the decision in court it the BMC does not revoke the said resolution.
Protests and voices of dissent against the BMC decision were also raised by Raza Academy, All India Sunni Jamiate Ulema, Jamiate Ulema Maharashtra, Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Mumbai Aman Committee and other organisations.
Likewise, a 22-member delegation of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee-Minority Department met Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai and sought revocation of the resolution passed by the BMC making 'Suryanamaskar' compulsory for students of all schools run by the Municipal Corporation.
The delegation asked the Governor to prevail upon the civic boy to revoke the resolution following which he assured them that he will forward the memorandum presented by the Committee to the state government.
Describing the BJP’s proposal as a “fascist move”, Congress corporator Mohsin Haider said, “We have nothing against yoga, but why should Surya Namaskar be made mandatory when it can hurt religious sentiments.”
It is the same line which Syed Ali Miya Nadvi had adopted about a decade ago.
There are some other observers who are of the view that the real motive behind the BMC resolution is to divert attention and polarise voters ahead of the civic polls due to be held in couple of months.
The observers say the BJP-Shiv Sena combine despite ruling the richest civic body of the state since last 15 years have miserably failed in fulfilling the promises and providing basic facilities. It is hence, they observe, the Saffron parties are in dire need of such controversial issues.
BJP, however, argued that the proposal had no religious connotations and that Yoga exercises were done by people across the world. “Surya Namaskar is not a part of religion but just a type of physical exercise,” said BJP’s Dilip Patel.
The BMC has a total of 1,285 schools. Out of them about 400 are Urdu medium schools where most of the students are Muslims.