The zilla parishad schools in Maharashtra have been asked to screen a short film on Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week, drawing criticism from the opposition, which has accused the ruling BJP of misusing government machinery.
A government official said the ZP schools were asked to screen a short film -- "Chalo Jeete Hai" -- on September 18 as it had a "social message" and would inspire students.
He added that the expenses towards the screening of the film would be borne by an NGO and not the government.
Sources in the education department said the chief minister's office had issued an instruction to this effect, but they did not clarify if there was a written order.
The 32-minute film, directed by Mangesh Hadawale and presented by Aanand L Rai and Mahaveer Jain, is based on the early life of PM Modi and shows how he got inspired by Swami Vivekananda and the empathy he exhibited towards the poor while growing up in Vadnagar in Gujarat.
"The film has a social message and will inspire the students," the government official said.
According to sources, the schools have been asked to make available a laptop or desktop with a minimum of one MBPS internet speed, a projector, a screen and a sound system for the screening of the film.
Opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have slammed the BJP-led dispensation over the move.
State Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant took a dig at the government, saying, "Why just a short film, have a curriculum on Modi and also give students a degree on Modi. He can make untruths look like truth. Keeping silence on important issues and speaking on other aspects is a subject of PhD."
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said asking the schools to screen the short film on PM Modi showed that the popularity of the prime minister was sinking.
"The government order is wrong as it is a misuse of the official machinery. The BJP is using schools for its election campaign. We appeal to the schools to oppose such illegal orders. Raise your voice and protest against this order," he said.