Goa RSS slams BJP government over school grants

Panaji, Aug 4 (IANS) Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar on Tuesday issued a stern warning to the BJP-led coalition government in the state, accusing it of succumbing to pressure from English medium schools and giving them government grants in violation of a pre-poll promise.

If the government failed to be firm on the issue of denying financial grants to English medium schools, the RSS would have no qualms if the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government fell, Velingkar said at a press conference organised here by the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM).

“We want the government to stand firm on this; if not, we don’t mind if this government falls,” the usually reclusive Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader said.

The BJP won the 2012 state assembly elections thanks to a strategic alliance with leaders of the Roman Catholic community, which account for nearly 26 per cent of the state population.

The party is now caught between the promises it made to the minority community and the BBSM over the issue of medium of instruction.

After coming to power, the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government through an ad hoc decision in 2012 decided to give grants only to minority institutions using English as a medium of instruction. New schools were denied the privilege, a decision that rankled with the Velingkar-led BBSM.

On the other hand, the Forum for Rights of Children to Education (FORCE), an organisation comprising largely of parents of children studying in Church-run schools and other schools in which English is a medium of instruction, has been demanding the government pass a law to ensure that the grants are made permanent.

In all, 127 schools with English as medium of instruction are currently availing of government grants.

Under pressure after FORCE leader Savio Lopez went on a fast-unto-death over the demand last week, 11 BJP legislators gave a signed undertaking on August 3 that the issue would be resolved in the next session of the state legislative assembly.

Velingkar and BBSM have called this assurance a “dilution” of the commitment to the regional languages by the BJP government.

“The BJP managed to beat the Congress in the last assembly elections because of the campaigning and contribution made by the BBSM. We will campaign against this government if they ignore our demands,” said Velingakar, whose BBSM has been insisting that the financial grants be given only to schools where medium of instruction is either Konkani or Marathi.

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