A fresh drama is brewing in Mumbai University over the name of the new International Students’ hostel in its Kalina campus with some students’ organisations demanding it be named after Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, while inaugurating the building last week, had anyway urged the Vice Chancellor (V-C) of the varsity to name it after the Swatantryaveer (freedom fighter) Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
While Chhatra Bharati Vidyarthi Sangathana and All India Students’ Federation (AISF) have written to Mumbai University V-C Dr Suhas Pednekar, and to the Governor in his capacity as the Chancellor to all state universities, more students’ organisations from progressive front are likely to follow suit.
According to students, if the hostel has to be named after a personality, it should be someone who has worked for students, irrespective of their caste and community, and has promoted teachings of equality. Both students’ organisations have underlined that this is also a centenary year for Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj who died in Mumbai in 1922.
Rohit Dhale, working president of the Chhatra Bharati Vidyarthi Sanghatana, said, “There is no better time to give his name to the hostel as Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj started the concept of hostels in the state. He also helped students coming from all castes and communities in fulfilling their dreams of higher education abroad by providing scholarships. No other name is more apt for this hostel than that of a personality who promoted equality and worked toward social reforms.”
Chhatra Bharati has also sought support from other students’ organisations. They have written to National Students Union of India (NSUI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), and Progressive Students’ Union (PSU), and plan to hold a meeting outside the newly inaugurated hostel building soon to decide their plan of action.
AISF has already decided to make it a larger movement by holding meetings as well as signature campaigns in the students’ community. After submitting letter to the Governor on Tuesday, Mumbai Secretary of the students’ organisation, Aamir Kazi, said, “Instead of spreading sangha or BJP ideology in Mumbai University by giving Savarkar’s name to the International Students’ Hostel, it is better to give importance to Lokraja Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj who worked in social and education sectors.”
Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, who was the first Maharaja of the princely state of Kolhapur, was considered a democrat and social reformer. His rule saw the implementation of progressive policies such as the reservation system and expanding access to education to all castes.