If you want to stay in Uttarakhand, then you must sing Vande Matram, says minister

Uttarakhand's higher education minister, Dhan Singh Rawat has sparked a row after his statement that singing Vande Mataram should be made mandatory, if one wants to live in Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand minister Dhan Singh Rawat has once again courted controversy by saying, "If you want to stay in Uttarakhand, then you must sing Vande Matram". Dhan Singh Rawat to India Today.

"There were around 3000 students at Roorkee College and I appealed to them that shouldn't our national flag be established in our colleges? Does anyone have a problem with our national song? They said no one has an issue. So if no one has any problem in bearing our national flag and singing national song, we don't have any problem. I think no one should take it in any other context," said Dhan Singh Rawat, who holds the higher education portfolio in the BJP ruled Uttarakhand told India Today.

Interestingly, while Rawat repeatedly referred to 'Vande Matram' as India's 'national song', the Supreme Court has observed that there is no concept of a 'national song'. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra observed in February that Article 51A of the constitution requires to promote national anthem and national flag but there is no reference to a national song. A fact clearly missed by the Uttarakhand minister in his over zealous patriotism pitch.

"There is no question of apology. National song shouldn't be linked to any religion, college shouldn't have any objection", Dhan Singh Rawat, MoS education, told India Today.

There have been repeated cases from another BJP ruled state in Uttar Pradesh where municipal corporations are facing internal turmoil over singing of Vande Matram before meetings. From Meerut to Allahabad, councillors have made headlines for fighting over making Vande Matram compulsory and banishing those who refuse to comply.

But unfazed inspite of the controversy, the minister has told India Today that his government plans to start a process to make Vande Matram compulsory in state colleges and schools.

"I have said that no one should have any objection. We will speak to stakeholders in college. We will take suggestions on making it compulsory," said Dhan Singh Rawat.