Opposition parties in West Bengal have alleged that the state government’s recent decision to introduce blue-and-white uniforms, featuring the “Biswa Bangla” logo, for students in all state-run schools, is a bid to politicise educational institutions, India Today reported.

In a notification dated March 21, the state Education Department had directed all state-run schools to introduce the new uniform with the government’s official logo for students of pre-primary classes to Class 8.

The blue-and-white colour theme has been widely used by the Trinamool Congress since it came to power in West Bengal in 2011. Several government buildings, state-run projects and even traffic check posts have been painted in these colours.

“It is as if schools are being robbed of their individuality and identity,” an unidentified government school teacher told India Today. “They are trying to bracket us all together.”

Bharatiya Janata Party National Vice President Dilip Ghosh said that due to the decision children are unwittingly becoming a part of an “evil design to politicise education”.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Mohammed Salim has said that the move is an attack on the autonomy of educational institutions, The Indian Express reported.

“The Trinamool Congress government is trying to privatise the schools while imposing its policies on school uniform,” Salim said.

An advocate has also filed a public interest litigation before the Calcutta High Court seeking an interim stay on the government notification, Live Law reported. The petition has described the move as a “political stunt” by the Mamata Banerjee-led government.

“Biswa Bangla” is originally a government campaign to promote handicrafts, textile and clothing of West Bengal, the petition has contended.

What the government says

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the logo belongs to the West Bengal government and not the ruling Trinamool Congress party, PTI reported.

“This is a brand of the government,” she said. “This [the new uniform] is not for private schools but those run by the state government. We provide the dress free of cost.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Education Minister Bratya Basu had said that the Opposition should not politicise the matter, PTI reported.

He claimed that BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam have also changed uniforms in schools.

“In Gujarat, the state government introduced Khaki pants for school children in 2021,” he said. “We are not going for Khaki which is the colour code of the uniform of a Hindutva organisation. We have chosen a colour which goes with the image of progress, development and inclusiveness of Bengal.”