Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday gave a pep-talk to protesting students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, who are demanding ouster of BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chief on the basis of a lack of adequate qualifications for the job.
In the discussion with students, Gandhi came with a series of questions that led to the same answer.
“If you dissent, they call you anti-national, anti-Hindu,” Gandhi told students at the institute.
“Calling anti-national or anti-Hindu are techniques to shut you up,” he added.
Gandhi also said that while mediocrity of Chauhan was an issue in the whole controversy, the way in which the government was denying around 250 protesting students was undemocratic.
“This will make a really nice movie – how the entire might of the Indian government was trying to push 250 students aside,” Gandhi told a hall-full of film students.
The Congress vice-president also seemed to suggest that the FTII issue was not a stand-alone one and that the BJP government (assisted by the RSS) was systematically trying to take away the power of elite educational institutions in India.
“This is not just about FTII. It is happening in a lot of higher education and cultural institutions,” one student also told Gandhi, who nodded in agreement.
Meanwhile, the BJP accused Congress of trying to create unnecessary politics over the FTII issue.
Actor and BJP member Paresh Rawal asked, “If the FTII students see a party member in (Gajendra) Chauhan, do they see a filmmaker in politician Rahul Gandhi?”
In the past, film personalities such as Anupam Kher, Resul Pookutty, Kiran Rao, Amol Palekar, Rajkummar Rao, Sudhir Mishra, Rishi Kapoor have all voiced their opinion against the appointment of Chauhan as chairman.
Students of the institute have now been protesting for 50 days. Some are even boycotting classes.