Textbook controversy heats up in Kerala

July 5th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, July 5 (IANS) The Congress party in Kerala Saturday decided to strengthen agitation against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of the state over a controversial Class 7 textbook. The Congress, which is on a campaign demanding withdrawal of the social science book, would organise a series of meetings across the state against teaching from the book, state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala told reporters here.

Citing the Goa government’s decision to withdraw a textbook after a controversy broke out over it, he said: “The textbook has to be withdrawn because it tries to inject communism in the minds of young and also it is anti-religion.”

Various religious and caste organisations in the state, including the the Nair Service Society, Indian Union Muslim League and the Catholic Church have come down heavily on the state government over the book alleging that it propagates atheism and the communist ideology. The religious organisations strongly oppose a chapter in the book - Life without religion.

Chennithala said that the party would hold two massive meetings in Kochi and in the state capital Monday and Tuesday respectively. Following the two meetings, the other parts of the state would also witness protest meetings, he added.

The state Congress chief also criticised Education Minister M.A. Baby for his statement in Delhi in which he claimed that Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh expressed anguish over the way the agitators handled the issue. Baby made the comments after holding a meeting with Arjun Singh in New Delhi Friday.

Describing the education minister’s statement as false, Chennithala said: “Just after Baby met Singh, I met Singh and he said that this was a state subject.”

In reply to a question on why two of the allies of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the Communist Marxist Party (CMP) and the Janadiyapathiya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS), have taken a pro-government stand on the issue, he said: “Yes, it is true they have said that simply because they are Communists. So we expect only such a remark from them.”

CMP leader M.V. Raghavan and JSS leader K.R. Gowri Amma, who were ousted from the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) for their stand against the party on two different occasions, have said that the textbook contains nothing wrong.

The issue has already rocked the Kerala Assembly, which is currently in session. With the Congress deciding to step up its protest, the issue is expected to heat up in the coming days.

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