New Delhi: Just days after being re-elected as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam, has sparked a controversy by stating that if people continue voicing opposition to the BJP at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor will have to resign.
Speaking to Hindi newspaper, Amar Ujala, on May 27, 2019, Gautam said (in translation): “This is not fair that while crores of voters have stamped approval on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s skilled leadership, students of the university make derogatory remarks against him. Those who use inappropriate words against BJP leaders and target Smriti Irani were being welcomed in the varsity. It will be not tolerated any more. Either the Vice Chancellor puts an end to these activities or resigns.”
“Whenever we have questioned the VC regarding such events where outsiders are coming and targeting BJP, he refused to comment, saying the event was organised by students’ union. Why did he not stop the programme? The AMU administration has been indirectly supporting the students by allowing them to extend invitations to such people, who speak against the nation and the BJP,” Gautam had said.
Last week a symposium on the ‘Role of AMU in Nation Building’ was held on the varsity organised by the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU), where Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan was invited to attend as a guest speaker. It has been alleged that derogatory slogans against Modi were raised during the programme.
Also read: AMU Being Used to Provoke Communal Polarisation
Reacting over the BJP lawmaker’s remark, AMUSU president Salman Imtiaz told Newsclick, “BJP MP Satish Gautam is a habitual offender who thrives on anti-Muslim rhetoric. This is unfortunate that he is threatening the Vice Chancellor of AMU for not stopping people from expressing dissent against Modi. He must know that AMU is a Central University and not an RSS shakha. AMU, like all Indian universities, will continue to teach students democratic means of opposing authoritarianism and fake ‘nationalism’.”
“Satish Gautam must know that universities do not teach bigotry, instead they are the learning centres which keep our republic vibrant. Modi has been elected by the people of India, and people of India have all the right to oppose his views. Students across India will continue to question the policies of Modi regime, whether the BJP likes it or not. Modi will not be given a free hand to destroy the Indian economy, harmony and social fabric. Modi will be questioned in the constitutional framework and people like Satish Gautam will have to digest this dissent. India is a democracy.”
Jinnah Portrait Row Returns to Haunt Varsity
Soon after winning the election, Satish Gautam said on May 25 that the Jinnah portrait continued to be hung in the students’ union hall and his first priority after taking oath would be to remove the portrait from the university and that it would be to sent to Pakistan.
Also read: AMU Students Beaten Up for Hanging Jinnah's Portrait in Student's Union Hall
“The right place for Jinnah’s portrait is not in AMU, but in Pakistan. There is no change in our stand, and it will be sent there by whatever means possible,” the MP said.
It was Satish Gautam who had kicked up the storm over the Jinnah portrait last year in May, when he sought the removal of the portrait from the university. He had written a letter to AMU Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor, inquiring about the status of the Jinnah portrait at AMU. Soon after the letter, goons of Hindu right-wing forces armed with weapons had allegedly entered the campus and manhandled the students for putting up the portrait.
Over the past few years, a section of students in AMU has been demanding the construction of a temple on the campus for Hindu students, which triggered controversy. Ahead of Republic Day last year, a few students led by Ajay Singh, grandson of BJP MLA Dalveer Singh, held a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ on bikes through the university campus and chanted provocative slogans.