The University of Pune (UoP) is hosting a function to rename the university after Savitribai Phule and several political leaders are attending the event but the social reformer’s descendants, a couple of whom are active in public life, living in Pune have not been invited. Around 10 descendants and their spouses from the Phule family live in Pune, and all of them have been ignored by the university authorities for the renaming ceremony.
Neeta Hole, is one of those who had been seeking the renaming of the university and following it up with the State government on different platforms. Incidentally, Hole was specially invited by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for unveiling the memorial of Phule in Bhawani Peth on August 3.
“The University administration has become a puppet in the hands of a section of ruling politicians. These leaders and some lower rank politicians fear that if we, Phule’s descendants, come in the limelight, they will lose political value and all importance. This petty mindedness has obviously resulted in our being sidelined from the renaming function,” she said.
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Hole and her husband, the direct descendant of the Phule family, and their three daughters live in Pune. Her husband’s elder brother and wife too live in Pune along with their son. Another brother and his wife, who are no more, are survived by their son who lives here with his wife. None of them received any formal invite for the function.
“We would have been pleased even if the university had simply invited us over the phone. But it simply did not bother. We, are carrying forward the legacy of the social work our great forefathers started to the best of our ability and deserve a presence for a historic occasion like this,” Hole said.
Notwithstanding the ‘unmindful’ UoP administration, Hole said she would make it to the renaming function, terming it as historic occasion that would honour her social reformer forefathers.
Saturday’s renaming function is scheduled to be attended by a slew of political figures, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his deputy Ajit Pawar, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Higher and Technical Education Minister Rajesh Tope among others besides Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan.
When contacted, UoP registrar Narendra Kadu refused to speak on reasons behind not inviting Phule’s descendants. “I am not willing to comment on the issue. You please contact the vice-chancellor,” he said. Vice-chancellor Wasudeo Gade was not available for his comments.
Meanwhile, the Hole family expressed deep anguish at former BJP state president Sudhir Mungantiwar not getting invited to the event.
“Sudhir bhau was the first who demanded the renaming in the State Legislature. He advocated the demand vehemently. The ruling party leaders agreed to his demand when assembly elections were nearing. The renaming function has been hijacked by the ruling party NCP-Congress,” Hole alleged.
She said Mungantiwar was sending books throwing light on the life and work of Savitribai, which will be distributed on the occasion of renaming of the UoP.
Mungantiwar said the ruling Congress-NCP alliance was trying to extract political benefit. “The proceedings of the State Legislature are sufficient to explain who advocated the demand for the renaming. Savitribai Phule was a great social leader and I am happy that government was compelled to accept our demand for renaming Pune university after her. By not inviting me or Phule descendants, the state government has made it clear that it simply wants to take all the credit,” he told Newsline.