Singing "Vande Mataram" is no taboo for Muslim leaders
associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP). This was amply on
display when BJP's Minorities Morcha (Cell) National Executive
Committee, (NEC) meeting got underway here on Wednesday and the
executive members had no hesitation to exercise their vocal chords
to render "Vande Mataram" to exhibit their loyalty to the
Morcha president Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, a sitting member of
Parliament from Bhagalpur in Bihar, without batting an eye-lid
proudly declared: ''Vande Mataram" was sung by one and all at
the beginning of the Morcha's National Working Committee meeting
Shahnawaz, who is
here to attend the BJP Minorities Morcha NEC meeting, stated the
above while answering a query that certain Muslim organisations are
strongly opposed to the rendering of "Vande Mataram", the
national song of India composed by Bankimchandra Chatterjee (Chattopadhyay)
in an inspired moment in 1876.
It may be pointed
out here that it is generally believed that the concept of Vande
Mataram came to Bankimchandra Chatterjee when he was still a
government official under the British Raj. Around 1870, the British
rulers of India had declared that singing of "God Save the Queen"
would be mandatory. He wrote it in a spontaneous session using words
from two languages he was expert in, Sanskrit and Bengali.
Gana Mana" was chosen as the National Anthem of independent
India. "Vande Mataram" was rejected on the grounds that
Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Arya Samajis and others who
opposed idol worship felt offended by its depiction of the nation as
"Mother Durga"—a Hindu goddess. Muslims also felt that its origin as
part of "Anandamatha", a novel they felt had an anti-Muslim message.
When pointed out
that the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh Government's School Education
Department, on the directives of its Minister Ms
Archana Chitnis, was on the verge
of starting the recitation of a "Bhojan Mantra" prior to the mid-day
meal at schools, Shahnawaz parried the question and refused to
comment on the grounds that he had no knowledge of the matter.
Pervez Bari is a Bhopal based journalist. He can be contacted at