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Controversies mar Vande Mataram celebrations
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, September 7
Controversies marred the centenary celebrations of Vande Mataram today with the BJP raking up the absence of Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a Congress-organised group singing while Muslim institutions in BJP-ruled states by and large defied the government directive for reciting the national song.

The BJP, which earlier made a big issue of HRD Minister Arjun Singh's decision to make the singing optional, today accused Mrs Gandhi of playing "vote bank and appeasement" politics by "consciously and deliberately" staying away from the function at the Seva Dal office adjoining the Congress headquarters.

Addressing the start of his party's national executive in Dehradun, BJP president Rajnath Singh dismissed health reasons given for Mrs Gandhi's absence.

However, Congress general secretary Ahmed Patel rejected the BJP's criticism, dissmissing it as an issue of no consequence.

Madrasas in BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Gujarat defied the order on compulsory singing of the song and many seminaries in Rajasthan declared a holiday. In Lucknow, a large number of Muslim children recited the popular patriotic song 'Sare Jahan Se Achcha' instead of Vande Mataram at a function attended by prominent clerics.

Some madrasas in Madhya Pradesh, however, bucked the trend by organising the singing of Vande Mataram by children.

Lucknow: Rejoicing over the 100 years of adoption of Vande Mataram was marred when two persons were injured following a clash between Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists and some local Muslims in Kalli Patti village under Mavawan police circle in Meerut.

According to Principal Home Secretary S K Agarawal, “Barring this incident of violence in Meerut, no untoward incident was reported from any other part of the state.”

While The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had on Wednesday ruled that the singing of Vande Mataram could not be forced, in Lucknow, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists staged a demonstration at the GPO shouting provocative slogans to mark their protest against Islamic institutions reservation against the singing of the song.



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