FTII row reaches President; Rahul leads striking students

RSTV Bureau

FTII-protest-jantar-mantarThe controversy surrounding appointment of BJP member and TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) landed at the doors of the highest constitutional office. A delegation of FTII students, on strike demanding the removal of Chauhan, met President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday. The delegation was led by Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi, who had earlier last month lent his support to the striking students.

Criticising Modi government over the lingering strike in FTII, Rahul Gandhi alleged educational institutions were being “captured” by the RSS and only those “singing praises” of the Prime Minister and BJP are being placed on top.

“The people who are placed on top of them (the students) do not have the merit to be placed on top. The only merit they have is that they have sung praises of the Prime Minister, the BJP and believe in the ideology of the RSS,” the Congress vice president press before leading the students.

Holding that Chauhan lacks merit to govern the institute, Gandhi added, “the message the government was trying to convey was that leave behind your capability and merit and pay your obeisance to Modiji and RSS and come to this institution. This is a wrong message to the students”.

For more than two months now, the students of India’s premier film making institute have been on a strike seeking the removal of Gajendra Chauhan claiming his appointment “political”.

Meeting the striking students at Pune early last month, Rahul Gandhi threw his weight behind the striking students. He claimed that the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of the premier institute formed part of the RSS’s “larger scheme” to undermine educational, bureaucratic and judicial system.

And soon after Rahul’s visit to the FTII in Pune, agitating students brought their protest to the capital.

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File: Rahul Gandhi with the students of FTII in Pune last month. Photo – PTI

Responding to the protest, the Union government said it is open to discussion but accused the principal opposition party of “politicising” the issue.

“With Rahul Gandhi’s Pune visit it has become clear that the strike has taken a political colour or it is a political strike from the beginning,” MoS Information Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had said.

“If the issue is to be resolved, it has to be done by the students, the administration and the government and not by any political party,” MoS added.

The Students body had even written to the leaders of various political parties requesting them to intervene and urge the government to revoke the appointments of “unfit” people and to set up a transparent procedure for future appointments.

Several leading film personalities like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Rishi Kapoor, Sudhir Mishra, Sayeed Mirza, Ranbir Kapoor, Amol Palekar, Resul Pookutty, Kiran Rao, Rajkumar Rao, Piyush Mishra among others have voiced their opposition to Chauhan’s appointment. Even Anupam Kher, who is considerably close to the BJP, had come out in support of the striking students.

Chauhan, known for his role of Yudhishtira in popular tele-serial Mahabharat and a member of the BJP, has ruled out his resignation.

(With inputs from the PTI)