Samajwadi Party in damage control mode over manifesto (Lead)

April 12th, 2009 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Sanjay Dutt Lucknow, April 12 (IANS) The Samajwadi Party leadership Sunday got into a damage control mode after embarrassment over their stand in the election manifesto against “unmindful use of computers” and against proliferation of “expensive English-medium schools”.
The party leadership denied they had any intention to ban computers or to abolish English-medium educational institutions in the state, and chose to blame it all on the media.

Party general secretary Amar Singh told reporters in New Delhi: “Our party manifesto has been misinterpreted and what has come out in certain newspapers and later lapped up by some TV channels is far from truth.”

Film actors-turned-Samajwadi Party leaders Sanjay Dutt and Nafisa Ali too said parts of the party manifesto, released here Saturday, were “twisted” by a section of the media.

“The party manifesto does not at all say that Samajwadi Party has any plans of banning English or of doing away with computers. It simply expresses its view that there was need to put an end to expensive English-medium schools,” pointed out Dutt over telephone from Patna where he was campaigning with Amar Singh.

“The idea was clearly to discourage schools that charge high fees in the name of English medium… any kind of ban of English-medium schools was not the intention,” he clarified.

Echoing party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s oft-repeated line, he added: “Mulayam Singh-ji has always been opposed to English as a replacement to our national language Hindi. He has always stressed upon the need to give greater importance to Hindi and even other regional languages instead of English.”

“You should be aware that even during his earlier stints as chief minister, when Mulayam Singh-ji got English typewriters removed from the secretariat, he would ensure that letters received from governments of other states were replied in the language of that very state,” Dutt recalled.

“And for that purpose, he had appointed translators well-versed in regional languages like Tamil, Kannada, Telegu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali etc. He would even advise chief ministers of other states to write to him in the language of their respective state instead of English.”

Nafisa Ali, the party’s candidate from Lucknow who speaks Hindi haltingly, said: “Who says that the Samajwadi Party manifesto proposes to ban English? It is surely a figment of imagination of some journalists whose intent is to run down the party.”

“And about computers, with my lesser knowledge of Hindi, when I can understand that the manifesto only talks about not becoming a slave to computers, why can’t the all knowledgeable mediapersons understand that? The whole gameplan is to twist and turn facts to project us in poor light.”

The party’s state general secretary Rajendra Chaudhary hurriedly convened a press conference to clarify several points in the manifesto.

“Even while stressing against the use of harvesters or tractors in the manifesto, the party’s intent was to simply point out that since India was a labour-intensive country and bulk of the farmers owned small agricultural holdings, mechanisation was not the answer to their problem,” he said.

“That was misconstrued as some kind of our plan to oppose use of tractors and harvesters.”

When his attention was drawn to the fact that the Samajwadi Party had promoted the “mall culture” when it was in power in the state, but the party manifesto is now opposing it, Chaudhary shot back: “You should appreciate that despite a number of corporate houses being close to our party leadership, we have the courage to oppose the mall culture because that does not go with the socio-economic ethos of the nation.”

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