Himachal Pradesh unit of Congress has decided to begin all its meetings with Vande Matram and end with the national anthem.
Shimla: A fortnight after its MLA got the state assembly to pass a resolution supporting his demand that the cow be named ‘Rashtra Mata’ or ‘mother of the nation’, the opposition Congress in Himachal Pradesh has embraced two symbols of nationalism traditionally showcased by the ruling BJP – the national anthem and national song Vande Mataram.
Earlier this week, the grand old party’s state unit put in place a new practice where all official meetings, including those at the district and block levels, will begin with Vande Matram and end with the national anthem.
Himachal Pradesh Congress committee chief Sukhwinder Sukhu has written to all office-bearers and party leaders in the districts and blocks, informing them of the decision.
“Through this letter, I want to draw your attention towards an important matter. I am of the personal view that all internal meetings of the Block Congress Committees and the District Congress Committees should begin with Vande Matram and end with the National Anthem.
“This is because in 1905, Vande Matram was played for the first time in the Congress session and later, on 20 October, 1911, the National Anthem was also played at the Congress session. Both Vande Matram and National Anthem symbolise patriotism. I humbly request you to start following this practice as it will have a deep impact in the masses about the Congress,” Sukhu wrote.
Before sending the letter, Sukhu got the state committee members to endorse his plan.
“I have proposed this to counter BJP’s pseudo–patriotism. The Congress believes in real patriotism and not some sham. We are the original patriots,” he told ThePrint, adding it had nothing to do with countering the BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
‘Victory for BJP’
The ruling BJP is, however, not surprised over the Congress move.
“It is a victory for the party as Congress’s Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath has also been forced to continue Vande Matram and national anthem under pressure from us. The Himachal unit has also fallen in line,” said BJP spokesperson Randhir Sharma.
“We have been doing it for years at our meetings and sessions as a matter of commitment. We are happy the Congress has finally found merit in it,” Sharma added.
Last month, Congress MLA Anirudh Singh Tanwar had moved a private member’s resolution in the state assembly demanding that the cow be named the ‘Rashtra Mata’. The assembly had adopted the resolution and also resolved to approach the central government with the demand.
The BJP government has already imposed a cow cess on each bottle of liquor sold in the state to raise funds for the welfare of cow and enacted a legislation to get 15 per cent of temple offerings for maintaining and managing ‘gau sadans’ (cow shelters).