Faced with growing dissent on the campus over the proposed presence of BJP MP Yogi Adityanath at the Allahabad University Students’ Union (AUSU) annual inauguration programme, the district administration has decided to cancel the event itself after the university authorities sought its intervention to settle the escalating tension due to the two student groups’ adamant stand.
A divided student union, one led by AUSU president Richa Singh (opposing Adityanath’s presence) and the other by vice-president Vikrant Singh (in support of it), Thursday forced the university authorities, in the absence of Vice Chancellor Prof A Satyanarayan, to seek help of the police and the district administration. Late evening, District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar said the authorities have been told about the programme being cancelled, and added that no prior permission was sought for the event which was to be attended by several MPs.
He further charged the authorities of shying away from taking the responsibility at a time when Section 144 was imposed in the entire district in the wake of the panchayat polls.
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Responding to the late report, AU chief proctor N K Shukla said while he has learnt about the development, the University was yet to receive a formal notification in regards to the event being cancelled.
Earlier in the day, both AUSU president and vice-president stood firm on their decision regarding the presence of the BJP MP at the inauguration event.
Richa Singh, who is the first woman to hold the chief post, has opposed the AUSU’s decision to call the BJP MP who, she said, is “communal and controversial”. She had even declared a hunger strike if Adityanath is allowed to attend the programme and threatened to block the main entry gate on Friday. “If they want to go inside, they will have to remove me physically. This is a democratic method of protest. I am not against anybody coming to the University to express his views. But this (event) is the inauguration of our students’ union, of which I am the president. This is an occasion of honour,” she said.
Vikrant Singh, on the other hand, still claimed that the AUSU would “go ahead with the programme as per the schedule”. “We want it to be left upon the students to decide who they want to hear. We did not oppose when (AAP leader) Prashant Bhushan, with whom we have several disagreements, came here and spoke. But she (Richa) is protesting to get into the limelight,” he said.
He claimed that the ABVP (student wing of the RSS) “just wanted the students to hear Adityanath without any prejudice”. He listed out Adityanath’s “achievements”, saying the MP used to be a member of the Executive Council of Banaras Hindu University and is currently a member of Deen Dayal Upadhyay University’s. “Moreover, his trust runs several educational institutions,” he claimed.
The group led by Richa has opposed Adityanath’s presence citing his “lack of any educational achievement”.
“We would have preferred an educationist or even a senior minister from the Central government (to attend the programme),” she said, and pointed out the several instances when “thinkers and scholars from the RSS and right-wing background have presented their views” which her group never opposed.
She also accused the ABVP of putting “pressure” which forced the V-C to go on leave. “They are trying to force their decisions because they have their government at the Centre,” she alleged.
Meanwhile, Prof Abdul Qadir Jafari, head of the Department of Arabic & Persian, and the current in-charge of the university administration (since Wednesday evening), said: “Somebody had to take charge. Today, some students from the two groups met me and I advised them not to do anything that would affect the university. The permission for the programme had been granted well in advance (when the V-C was present).”
He also claimed that the university had written to the district administration in the past and again early on Thursday, a written request was sent to the DM to make adequate security arrangements for Friday. He, however. could not be contacted for his comment after the DM’s order came later in the day.