Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday visited the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune to express his solidarity with the agitating students there who have been demanding the removal of the newly-appointed chairperson Gajendra Chauhan, and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of showing favouritism to certain people.

“If they want to privatise it, I will be sitting here agitating with you,” Rahul said, expressing his solidarity and support to the striking students.

“There is a place for government in education and there is a place for private players, but I wouldn’t support privatisation of an institution like this,” he added.

Accusing the current BJP government of showing favouritism to certain candidates for top posts, Rahul said, “This is not just about your institute. It is happening across the board in our education system and our bureaucracy too.”

“A single idea of our country is being promoted and all those who disagree are being silenced,” Rahul said, adding, "The students are only asking for their voice to be heard.It will not make the government any smaller if they have a discussion."

Rahul then said, "It does not do any good to the government if student voices are suppressed. We will raise their voice on all platforms, we will raise their voice in Parliament."

The FTII students are on strike since June 12 after the appointment of Chauhan as its chairperson along with four other members. The students have alleged that all the five who have been appointed by the government lack required credentials.

The students also alleged that they have been appointed because of their relations with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We have been pretty successful in building solid institutions in this country in the past. The idea of IIT was an idea created many years ago,” Rahul said. he joined the agitation after the striking students approached him to raise the issue in  Parliament.

It is to be mentioned here that the meeting of the striking students with union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley failed on July 3 as the ministry refused to rollback the appointments.

 

The students have written to all the members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The FTII alumni also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention, but they have not received any reply on the issue yet.