Rahul Gandhi took on the RSS, in a reference to criticise the Modi government, in general, and its decision to appoint Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), in particular. The Congress vice president on Friday met with the students of the premier institute in Pune who are on strike since 50 days seeking the ouster of Chairman Gajendra Chauhan.
“RSS wants to promote their idea. They will call you anti-national, anti-Hindu. They are scared of you. That is the nature of a bully,” Gandhi said interacting with the students.
He further claimed that the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of the premier institute formed part of the RSS’ “larger scheme” to undermine educational, bureaucratic and judicial system.
“RSS and its ideologues are systematically promoting mediocre people in the system…they are hell-bent on undermining the educational institutions’ stature…it is not going on just in the education system but also in bureaucratic and judicial system,” said the Congress vice president.
Clad in a T-shirt and jeans, Gandhi held a long interaction with the students of the campus that has produced several leading personalities of contemporary Indian cinema. Several of those leading film makers and cinema artists have rallied behind the agitating students off late.
Shifting the focus of attack on Narendra Modi government, Rahul claimed that the government was suppressing the voice of the students by refusing to have a meaningful discussion on their demand.
“All that the students are saying is that there should be a discussion and their voice should be heard,” Gandhi told the press after his meeting with the striking students.
“They (the government) don’t want discussion…anything that does not suit their ideology is anti-national. What is anti-national about these students who want to make their films? What could be more pro-national than that,” he asserted further as the journalists sought to know his opinions.
Rahul Gandhi also spent time to watch three short films in the FTII auditorium after his interaction with the students. The films were made by the students and alumni of the premier film school. Taking on Chauhan directly he said, “If students don’t want him (Gajendra Chauhan), then he clearly should not be there. This is an attempt to bully you”.
“We can raise the issue in the Parliament. It is not nice of the government to impose its wishes on the students. I am here to help them”.
On strike since 12th June, the students body early this month wrote 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, has come out in support of the striking student.
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)