The Opposition accused the government Thursday of politicising education, with Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha protesting the closure of an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Amethi and supporting the CPI’s D Raja in his objection to the ban imposed by Pondicherry University on a students’ magazine for being too critical of the Centre.
During zero hour, Raja drew an analogy between the agitation in Pondicherry University and those at Hyderabad Central University and JNU earlier this year. Raja alleged the agitation on all three campuses started with ABVP protests influencing the administration to act irresponsibly.
I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu objected to the comparison: “What happened in JNU was completed different. Why are you comparing the Pondicherry issue with JNU? If people raise slogans supporting Afzal Guru ad Maqbool Bhat, do you expect the government to remain quiet?”
This was followed by a protest by the Congress’s Pramod Tiwari, Rajeev Shukla and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who described the move to wind up the IIIT in Amethi as the NDA government’s “revenge” on voters for electing Rahul Gandhi their MP. This week students of Rajiv Gandhi IIIT were moved to the Allahabad campus, and work from the Amethi building will be transferred to Ambedkar University in Lucknow.
This, the three leaders said, was the third major project in Amethi to be shut down since the Modi government came to power, after the proposed Mega Food Park and Hindustan Paper Mill.
“We can differ politically but you cannot seek revenge from voters,” said Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Naidu maintained the decision to wind up the IIIT in Amethi was taken during the UPA’s tenure and was only being implemented by the NDA government.
Question hour also witnessed a brief disruption over drug abuse in Punjab. Ambika Soni (Congress) said, “The government is not serious about the problem of drugs and that is why no survey has been conducted by it on the extent of the abuse.”
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla shot back saying a survey was to be carried out every five years and the Congress did not do so in the last decade.