FTII students refuse to end strike over Chairman row

SansadTV Bureau

File Photo ( PTI )

The deadlock continues in country’s premier film-making institute Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) over the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of its governing council. The protest held by the institute’s students against Central government’s decision to appoint Chauhan entered its fifth day on Tuesday.

Gajendra Chauhan, a TV actor and a BJP member, is best known for playing the character of Yudhishthir in the popular serial Mahabharat.

The FTII students’ association has alleged that the newly-appointed Gajendra Chauhan does not have “vision and stature” of his eminent predecessors to merit his posting by the government. Upset with the government’s decision, nearly 150 students of FTII boycotted the classes and continued their protest on the campus raising slogans against Chauhan and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier in the day, students’ association of FTII had sent a communication to Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on their demands through FTII Director D Narain. The communication was sent to him after the students’ association failed to get a positive response from the ministry even after four days of agitation.

“We are yet to hear anything from the government’s side on the issue so far. The protest will continue till our demands are met,” FTII students’ association representative Rakesh Shukla told the press in Pune.

The student’s body of the institute has been getting support from various organisations in their protest against the government’s decision. On Tuesday, JawaharLal Nehru University’s (JNU) students’ union — JNUSU had released a statement expressing solidarity with them, whereas on Monday, the FTII students union got support from former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav and his newly floated outfit ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’. Yadav had also visited the institute in Pune and termed the demands made by the students as “just demands”. He had also alleged that Modi government does not understand the word ‘autonomy’ and this is not the first institution where “autonomy is being eroded” by it.

“It is not mere a question of saffronisation, the real question is of degradation of all institutions where people without necessary qualification are being appointed,” the former AAP leader said.

The students’ body also claimed support of more filmmakers and artistes, including Govind Nihalani, Rakesh Sharma, Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt.

By joining the students protest, Rakesh Sharma, a renowned documentary filmmaker, in a statement said, “First the IITs, now FTII and IIMs – this seems to be a pattern to meddle with centres of excellence to turn them into partly-controlled bastions of mediocrity. We must all protest visibly and vocally. This appointment has shocked everyone in the Indian film fraternity. Mr Jaitley would be wise to rescind it as soon as possible”.

On the other hand, the man in the centre of the row, Gajendra Chauhan, alleged that the protests were “politically motivated” and whipped up by someone for his own personal interest.

Regretting that questions were being raised about his capabilities without knowing him, he restated that he was willing to discuss the issue with the striking students.