Cartoon row: Oppn wants Sibal to quit

Last Updated: Mon, May 14, 2012 14:06 hrs

A cartoon of Indian constitution architect B R Ambedkar printed in National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) text books triggered debate in the Lok Sabha on Monday as Opposition demanded resignation of Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

India´s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded Sibal should quit over the issue.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)´s Harsimrat Kaur and Samajwadi Party (SP)´s Shailendra Kumar raised the issue during the Question Hour and demanded that textbooks containing the cartoon should be removed immediately.

Sibal said the government has decided to take proper steps to ensure such an incident does not occur in future.

"The government fully appreciates the sensibilities involved and concerns expressed by members of the House over the inappropriateness of the cartoons," Sibal said.

He said the government has decided to conduct an inquiry into the part played by NCERT officials who gave approval for the inclusion of the ´offending material´ in the text books and fix ´responsibility´.

"The government has also resolved to conduct an inquiry into the role of the officials of NCERT who approved the inclusion of the offending material in political science textbook of classes IX to XII and fix responsibility," he said.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "All objectionable material in textbooks will be withdrawn."

He said proper actions will be taken against those involved in the matter.

"Whatever is circulated will be withdrawn. Those books will not be prescribed as text books," he said.

Mukherjee said he or Sibal would inform the House once the government takes action on the matter.

Sibal apologised for the cartoon of Ambedkar that created ruckus in both the Houses of the Parliament on Friday.

While making a statement in the Lok Sabha, Sibal said he had written to the NCERT in April directing it to ´withdraw´ the cartoon from the textbooks.

"This year till we review the situation. The present text books will not be distributed," said Sibal.

Sibal said all the cartoon will be removed from the text books next year.

"If there is any such feeling, I am willing to personally apologise for it, though I was not the minister in 2006 when the cartoon came in the books," Sibal told reporters.

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