Mumbai, Oct 17 (IANS) Hitting out at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for a party MLA's demand to shut down all 'madrasas' in the state, the Maharashtra Congress on Saturday accused the state BJP of "insulting" the stand of its own leaders like former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"In their overenthusiasm to target the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, defame Maharashtra and Mumbai, the state BJP leaders seem to have lost their mental balance. Now, they are denigrating their own leaders with such statements," state Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
Referring to a demand by BJP legislator Atul Bhatkalkar, challenging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to close down 'madrasas' or Islamic schools to prove his 'Hindutva' credentials, the Congress said this goes contrary to the PM's slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.
Sawant said that in August 2001, then HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi had said that late PM Vajpayee had no intentions of meddling with the 'madrasas', and even suggested that besides religious topics, modern subjects like science, maths, social sciences and general knowledge should be included in their syllabi.
In February 2002, Joshi had said that the Centre was providing financial assistance to over a thousand 'madrasas'.
"When Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the BJP Election Manifesto in the 2012 state polls had promised to modernise all 'madrasas'; in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP mentioned a similar agenda for 'madrasas' twice," he added.
He claimed that in June 2019, Union Minister for Minority Development Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too had announced measures to improve and modernise the 'madrasas' by imparting training to the teachers in Hindi and English languages, and even computers.
"The state BJP has forgotten that PM Modi had spelt out his vision for Muslim youths holding Quran in one hand and computer in the other, along with his famed slogan," Sawant pointed out.
He asked BJP President JP Nadda and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil to categorically declare whether the PM's slogan was merely "a poll plank" against the backdrop of Bhatkalkar's demands, or take action against him for insulting its own party leaders and speaking out against the party policy on 'madrasas'.
"It would have been better if Bhatkalkar had consulted party seniors before making such a demand to shut down 'madrasas' in the state, given the historical background," Sawant added.