Chhattisgarh education minister’s remark sparks controversy

April 4th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by admin  

Raipur, April 4 (IANS) He may be the Chhattisgarh school education minister, but Ajay Chandrakar apparently thinks nothing of brushing off the state’s role in education. “Has the government produced these children?” he is reported to have asked. While Chandrakar says his statement has been distorted, opposition parties have been quick to seize upon the controversy.

Chandrakar allegedly dropped the bombshell Thursday at a workshop organised here by the government on the role of public-private partnership in school education.

He reportedly said, “People say the education of children is the government’s responsibility, but has the government produced these children?”

Soon after, several NGOs and political parties, including main opposition Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Shiv Sena, demonstrated against him in capital Raipur.

A fresh spell of protests began Friday with Youth Congress activists blocking the road traffic at several places seeking the resignation of the minister for hurting the sentiments of thousands of poor parents who send their child to government schools.

But Chandrakar told IANS, “My statement has been distorted.”

“I said nothing on the lines of what is being projected. My statement was misread. I said that parents and government have to work together for improving the quality of education and to what extent public-private partnership can be useful,” the minister informed.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ajit Jogi has strongly objected to the minister’s alleged comment, saying it is “a reflection of the state government’s thought and approach towards poor families”.

“Being the head of government, Chief Minister Raman Singh must apologise to the public, particularly to the parents of poor families who send their children to government schools. It’s extremely unfortunate that a senior minister made such an offensive statement,” Jogi said in a statement Friday.

The episode could embarrass the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government ahead of elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly in November.

The Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena too have joined the Congress bandwagon to protest the minister Friday.

Raman Singh and his party leaders have so far kept quiet over the issue. But with many objecting to the remark and pointing out that it is mainly the poor families that rely on government schools for their children’s education, the issue could snowball.

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