Government and private engineering colleges in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh have been directed to send 100 students each for the April 14 rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mhow, the birthplace of Babasaheb Ambedkar.
The Congress has slammed the order, claiming that it reflects that the BJP is not confident of drawing a big crowd to the rally.
The colleges have been asked to arrange buses and to ensure that a teacher accompanies the students to the rally, which is being organised on the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. The venue of the rally is located nearly 30 km away from Indore.
The directive has left the colleges in a quandary because many of them don’t have their own vehicles and some are hosting exams.
Signed by Assistant Commissioner (tribal welfare) Mohini Shrivastava, the order was issued on April 7.
Shrivastava told The Indian Express that the students will act as volunteers and help in crowd management. “The engineering and management colleges themselves volunteered to send students. Where will they get such exposure of volunteering in a rally to be addressed by the PM. We will issue them certificates,’’ she said.
She said several volunteers will be needed at the main venue and also at points where food and water will be served.
“We want shraddhalus (devotees). Only those interested in serving will turn up. If they don’t, there’s little we can do,’’ she said and added that she has no idea whether such an order was ever issued in the past.
Additional Director (higher education) Dr R S Varma said only those students who have enrolled for NCC and NSS from government-run and aided colleges will be asked to become volunteers.
He said most institutions don’t have their own vehicles, but he will ensure the presence of 400 students at the venue. “The remaining students will be asked to be ready at 7 am at their respective colleges. Their participation will depend on the availability of vehicles,’’ he said.
Congress spokesperson K K Mishra said such an order had never been issued in the past. He said the ruling party was not confident of rallying a big crowd for the event and was forcing students to attend it to increase numbers. “It’s also an indication of Modi’s declining popularity,’’ he said.
Reacting to the Congress charge, BJP spokesperson Dr Hitesh Bajpai said students were being involved as part of an experiment aimed at reducing police presence at the rally venue. “Modiji is very popular among youngsters. The participation of students is likely to be very high and volunteers will be needed to attend to them. NCC and NSS volunteers will be very keen to do the duty.’’