A decision to give the saffron paint to classrooms constructed under the Viveka scheme in Karnataka has evoked strong reactions from the Opposition Congress, which accused the BJP government of “saffronisation”.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Congress state working president Salim Ahmed said the government had resorted to diversionary tactics over the past three years. “They should be ashamed. There are not enough classrooms, books and midday meals are not provided to students, and there are not enough teachers,” he said.
The government should concentrate on these issues rather than paint classrooms saffron, he said. The Congress does not fear the saffron colour but respects it, he said. “We oppose only the ploy to saffronise the minds of children,” he said.
Under the Viveka scheme, launched by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday, 7,601 classrooms will be built in various schools.
Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily described the plan as an attempt to subvert the educational system built on the principles of scientific inquiry as envisioned by Jawaharlal Nehru. “We are not opposed to the colour per se,” he said, adding that BJP did not hold any rights over saffron.
The issue raised by the Congress is not the colour of classrooms but school infrastructure, according to MLA Priyank Kharge, who heads the party’s communications department in the state. “Why do they have to paint the classrooms saffron? They can paint the tricolor if they desire so,” he said.
For his part, Bommai told reporters that the Congress should avoid “politicising” the issue. “There is saffron in our national flag. Why are they averse to this colour?” he said, adding that the classrooms were being constructed in the name of Swami Vivekananda. “He was a monk. He wore the saffron robe,” the chief minister said.