The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the central government asking for its response to a petition that has sought directions to make singing of Vande Mataram mandatory at all educational institutions, reported ANI. The Centre has been asked to submit its reply within four weeks. The court will take up the matter next on August 23.
The song has kicked up quite a controversy in Uttar Pradesh. Meerut Mayor Harikant Ahluwalia did not allow seven Muslim corporators to participate in a Municipal Corporation meeting on March 28 because they did not sing the song. Chief Minister Adityanath later said the dispute over singing Vande Mataram reflected the “narrow mindedness” of those who refused to sing it. “Some people are saying that we will not sing Vande Mataram,” he said. “We want this country to move ahead in the 21st century and the matter of dispute is that we will sing Vande Mataram or not.”
The Allahabad unit of the Hindu Yuva Vahini has requested the chief minister to make the singing of Vande Matram mandatory in all educational institutions of the state from elementary level. “The national song Vande Matram played a vital role during the freedom movement,” HYV’s Allahabad unit vice president Mahant Bajrang Muni told Hindustan Times. “Its popularity can be adjudged by the fact that it became a marching song for political activism and freedom fighters. Hence, it should also be given equal importance in schools and colleges and be sung along with the national anthem.”
The conversation about Vande Mataram has not been limited to Uttar Pradesh though. Uttarakhand Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat had on April 7 said that everyone should sing the Vande Mataram if they wanted to remain in the state. Reacting to this, Uttarakhand Congress Chief Kishore Upadhyay said the song would not be played at any of the party’s events in the state for a month, “come what may”. “They [the BJP] cannot impose things like that on people,” Upadhyay had said. “I announce that we will not sing the Vande Mataram at our programmes for one month, come what may.”
The Indian Constitution does not have the concept of a national song. “Article 51A [fundamental duties] of the Constitution does not refer to National Song,” the Supreme Court said in February 2017. “It only refers to the National Flag and National Anthem. Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned.” The court was hearing a plea filed by a BJP leader seeking directions to promote the song.
Jana Gana Mana is India’s national anthem and triggered its own share of violence and arrests after the Supreme Court made it mandatory in movie theatres before screening of a film and ordered that all members of the public must stand in respect.