Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s international patron Ashok Singhal will address students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at the South Campus, located in Mirzapur, on ‘Mahamana ka Hindutvavad aur Rashtravad (Mahamana’s Hindutva and Nationalism).
According to an official statement issued by BHU, Singhal will address the students on February 16 at Lecture Hall in Rajiv Gandhi South Campus (RGSC), around 11 am. While the statement did not mention the specific occasion, a spokesperson said that this was part of the centenary celebrations of Bharat Ratna Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, founder of the university.
Asked about the reasons for inviting Singhal, who is known for his controversial comments — particularly in the backdrop of communal politics — the spokesperson said that Singhal has been a student of BHU, having completed his M. Tech from here.
RGSC Core Group Chairman Professor Ravi Pratap Singh, who is effectively the administrative head of the RGSC, sought to allay any apprehensions about his lecture leading to any controversy. “We were looking to get prominent people to address the students. In the current situation, Singhal holds an important position in the overall polity. Also, youngsters want to hear him. I do not see why his lecture should be controversial,” he said.
Prof Singh added that Singhal’s address would be made in an academic arena, and not a public place. “Also, the theme is pre-decided. So, I feel all these fears are misplaced,” he said.
VHP’s Kashi Prant vice-president, Pawan Srivastava, claimed that this is not the first time Singhal was visiting BHU. “Also, he is the patron of Arundhati Vashishth Anusandhan Peeth, an organisation that studies and researches various issues related to Hindus and their socio-economic aspects. At the institute itself, which is headquartered at his residence here in Allahabad, several lectures are held on a regular basis. This invite to us is not surprising,” he said.
Incidentally, the VHP is also celebrating its golden jubilee by holding Virat Hindu Sammelans all across the country.
Last week, at a conference in Allahabad, Singhal had wondered why the Akbar’s Fort on the banks of Yamuna was not replaced by a night shelter to be used by the pilgrims visiting the Sangam.
The fort, he had said, was a symbol of Hindu subjugation, constructed after defeating Hindu king Hemu in the second battle of Panipat. In his bid to reach out to the Dalits, the VHP patriarch had also attributed untouchability and hierarchy among Hindus to Islamic invasion in India.