Vande Mataram, the immortal and awe-inspiring lines by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, which motivated millions of Indians to launch a crusade against the oppressive foreign yoke, is now being projected as blasphemous, thanks to the aggressive appeasement policies of the ruling Congress party and its Leftist cohorts.
The controversy began with the HRD Minister Arjun Singh, who has unabashedly distorted history textbooks to appease the Muslims to project himself as the messiah of secularism, in a letter to Chief Ministers asked to ensure that the first two stanzas of the national song were recited in all educational institutions across the country on September 7 to mark the centenary of Vande Mataram.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Maulana Mulayam Singh Yadav also issued similar instructions to educational institutions.
?We consider recitation of Vande Mataram by Muslim students un-Islamic and I have no hesitation in advising members of the community to shun it,? said a cleric Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahal.
The old rabble rouser of Chandni Chowk, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari said asking the Muslims to sing Vande Mataram amounted to ?suppression? of the community.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Zafryab Jilani said recitation of the national song was against the tenets of ?Shariat? (Islamic law). ?There are some lines in Vande Mataram which go against our religion,? he said.
That vote-bank politics was far more important than patriotism for both the Congress and the Communists became evident from their reactions to the controversy.
Communist leader Mohd Salim went to the extent of dubbing ?communal? and ?anti-Muslim? the entire Anand Math of which the national song is a part. Salim, despite his claiming to be from Bengal, has got his facts wrong. He should know that it was this song that inspired the Bengali masses to successfully oppose the division of Bengal in 1905 by the British. It, thereafter, went on to unite a diverse nation to rise in one voice Vande Mataram against the alien rulers. It became the ?Mantra? of nationalism.
Salim should know that Indians never had any problems proudly singing Sare Jahan Se Achcha by Mohd Iqbal, who later went on to become a great propounder and advocate of the two-nation theory.
Ever keen to woo Muslim fanatics, Arjun Singh lost no time in declaring, ?The Government has appealed to one and all in the country to sing the national song on the occasion but this does not mean that the Government is compelling everyone to sing it. Singing Vande Mataram on September 7 is voluntary.?
Backing Arjun, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, ?The Congress party and the country is proud of the national song Vande Mataram, which had electrified our freedom fighters, who made umpteen sacrifices. Even then, if a community or group feels otherwise, they are free to recite it or not.?
Demanding action against MPs opposing reciting of the national song, BJP leader V.K. Malhotra said their behaviour was an abetment to anti-national forces. ?How could a Member of Parliament say that he is against reciting the national song or anthem when it is enshrined in the Constitution,? he asked.
Malhotra also charged the HRD Minister with showing ?disrespect? to the national song by making its singing optional and demanded that he be booked for the ?crime?.
The issue also rocked both Houses of Parliament with members cutting across party lines criticising the Government'smove.
Vande Mataram is the national song and should not be brought into controversy. We have high regard for Vande Mataram as we have for Sare Jahan Se Accha, said Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee as the Opposition benches burst into Vande Mataram in the Lok Sabha.
Describing the national song as part of ?national ethos? and a constitutional decision which inspired freedom fighters, Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi in the Rajya Sabha accused the Government of indulging in Muslim appeasement.
Expressing dismay over the opposition to Vande Mataram, saints including Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in a joint statement said in Bangalore, ?Religious intolerance has to stop somewhere. Today, it is Vande Mataram. Tomorrow, it could be refusing to say ?Namaste? or seeking the removal of saffron colour from the national flag. This will harm the composite culture and social fabric of India.? The religious leaders instructed all Hindu religious places and congregations to start singing the Vande Mataram.
The BJP-run Madhya Pradesh Government also made singing of the national song compulsory on September 7.
First it was Saraswati Vandana, then lighting of lamps, then history textbooks and now Vande Mataram. This has to stop somewhere. If the united resistance put up by religious leaders, devotees and enlightened citizens could force the state Government in Andhra Pradesh to enact a law banning propagation of any faith other than Hinduism on the Holy seven hills of Tirumala, abode of Lord Venkateshwara, then a united resolve not to allow our national symbols to be denigrated can certainly put a halt to this unholy march of anti-national forces. Vande Mataram!