The Maharashtra government today rejected claims of the Opposition parties that it was distributing copies of the Bhagwad Gita in educational institutions in the state.
"The government is not distributing the Bhagwad Gita. The Bhaktivedanta Trust of Bhiwandi in adjoining Thane district wanted to distribute copies of the Gita in some colleges and so we gave them a list of colleges. If someone wants to distribute copies of the Bible or the Koran, we will also give them the list of colleges," Tawde today said.
Earlier in the day, former chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan had objected to the reported distribution of the copies of the Gita in NAAC 'A' colleges of Mumbai by the office of the Deputy Director for Higher Education for Mumbai.
Addressing the media here, Chavan said that the incident was "unfortunate", adding that, if at all any book needed to be distributed, it should be the Constitution written by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
"We are a secular state. All religions are equal and no particular religion should get special treatment, be it Hinduism or Christianity or any other," Chavan said.
He added that if this continued, then people from other religions would also demand that their respective holy books be distributed.
He alleged that such an initiative could not have taken place without the knowledge of the state education minister.
"I think there is an effort to create problems among different religions. The BJP knows that it will not win in 2019 and, hence, it is pursuing such initiatives," Chavan claimed.
Congress MLA Naseem Khan, who was with Chavan at the press conference, called it an effort to "saffronise" the education.
Speaking to the media, Tawde said that some parties like the Congress, NCP and SP were making statements about the distribution of the Bhagwad Gita in colleges and dared them to declare that the holy book was "bad".
The office of the Joint Director, Higher Education for Mumbai region had, on July 11, issued a letter asking NAAC 'A' and 'A+' ranked colleges in the city to collect copies of the Gita from its office.
The letter, however, did not mention which group or organisation gave the copies for distribution.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)