The ludicrous decision by the newly elected Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Kamal Nath to break away from a time bound tradition, of singing “Vande Mataram” in the Madhya Pradesh Secretariat smacks of grandstanding and reeks of petty politics. While trying to unravel the figments of imagination, constituting the preserve of either the Chief Minister or his Party would be an exercise in futility, there is no doubt that by resorting to this knee jerk initiative, the Congress Party has eroded its credibility to a significant extent. The singing of “Vande Mataram” neither constitutes a political ideology nor party propaganda. In fact, while the practice of singing this wonderful creation of the legendary Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the secretariat on the first working day of every month, in Madhya Pradesh, might have been instituted by the BJP, the egregious Mr. Kamal Nath seems to have been completely oblivious of the fact that the first two verses of the song were adopted as the National Song of India in October 1937 by the Congress Working Committee. So in the process of vainly trying to obfuscate the legacy of the BJP, Mr. Kamal Nath has firmly shot himself in the foot.
Mr. Kamal Nath has been quoted as saying, “It is wrong to do politics on Vande Mataram. They do politics on everything from Ram temple to Vande Mataram. I condemn this. I will give a new ‘roop’ (look) to Vande Mataram.” At the outset by preferring to part from tradition, it is Mr. Kamal Nath who has courted controversy and ignited an unwarranted and a totally avoidable debate. To ascribe the singing of a National Song to the convenience and expediency of a rival party bears monumental testimony to an attitude that is immature and a mindset that is prejudicial. Further, a song which has been embellished by its creator in a form in which it was intended to be conceptualized does not require a resurrection. Hence India is not looking for a brash, unthinking and insensitive Chief Minister to lend a new “roop” to its national song which its populace has whole heartedly embraced with pride, dignity and patriotism.
Yes Mr. Kamal Nath is absolutely right when he acclaims that a mere singing of “Vande Mataram” on the first day of each month does not infuse a citizen with patriotism. Going by this logic, does it require the hoisting of the national flag twice a year accompanied by a reverberating and passionate singing of “Jana Gana Mana” to invest in every Indian the tenet of patriotism? Do we inculcate a frenzied love for our nation only on Independence and Republic Days? For sixty years various Prime Ministers from Mr. Kamal Nath’s own party have been embracing this tradition. So how about stopping the practice of singing the National Anthem on Independence Day and perhaps even imposing a ban on hoisting the tri-colour? That would really be providing some “roop” to culture and national tradition!
In the avant garde cult horror movie Dr. Caligari (1989), a doctor experiments with her patients at the C.I.A (Caligari Insane Asylum), where she transfers glandular brain fluids from one patient to another. By the end of the film the patient becomes the doctor, the doctor becomes the patient and the inmates are left running the asylum.
Before Madhya Pradesh becomes a basket case for irrational experiments, hope its Chief Minister sees the light of the day.