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Public-funded institutions can't house criticism for govt: Aligarh BJP MP

Nikhil Kumar Verma | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:50 IST

The leader

  • Satish Kumar Gautam is the BJP MP from Aligarh
  • He has studied till the 10th standard, and is on the governing body of the Aligarh Muslim University

The letter

  • Gautam recently wrote a letter to the AMU V-C, warning against allowing \'anti-BJP\' functions on campus
  • He feels institutions dependent on taxpayers\' money have no right to criticise the Modi govt

More in the story

  • Why Gautam is in favour of doing away with student politics
  • The MP\'s view on serving buffalo meat at the AMU

Aligarh BJP MP Satish Kumar Gautam claims to be a committed nationalist. His official website, probably not updated since the last general election in 2014, proclaims, "do anything for nation, believe in unity not in breaking the country".

Elected for the first time, the 43-year-old Gautam studied only till the 10th standard. But, he holds strong views regarding the country's institutions of higher learning.

"The institutions dependent on taxpayers' money have no right to criticise the Modi government," believes Gautam.

The MP has recently hit the headlines for his letter to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). It warned the Vice-Chancellor, Lt Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah (brother of famous actor Naseeruddin Shah) against allowing "anti-BJP" or "anti-national" functions in the university.

Cautioning AMU students not to follow in the footsteps of their JNU counterparts, the letter, dated 22 February, reads: "It is being seen that every event organised on the campus digresses from its subject and effectively ends up going against Sangh Parivar, the BJP and the government. It is also seen that the university selectively invites those people for talks and seminars who hold anti-government views, and who somehow also believe in dissolution and disruption of the country."

Incidentally, Gautam is also a member of the AMU Court - the university's supreme governing body. Notwithstanding the fact that some of BJP's top leaders are themselves products of student politics, Gautam says there should be no place for politics on campuses.

Catch spoke to the MP on this issue. Here are the excerpts from the conversation:

You have written a letter to the V-C of AMU. What makes you so worried about the atmosphere in the campus?

There is a consistent campaign against the BJP and the Modi government at the AMU. It is going the JNU way in organising anti-government functions. Most seminars have been reduced to anti-BJP platforms. They are used only to criticise the party. Anti-government slogans are often raised in such programs.

I firmly believe that educational institutions running on public funds have no right to denigrate the government. They are not paid to indulge in politics or speak against the establishment. The Aligarh Muslim University is not a political institution.

"Institutions dependent on taxpayers' money have no right to criticise the Modi govt," says Gautam

Why are you against politics in university campuses?

Students who wish to engage in politics should quit university campuses. We welcome youth in the political system. But politics inside the learning institutions cannot be allowed. University students should restrict themselves to studies.

Some students have been staying in the university for up to 15 years. Their sole motive is to make a political career. Such students can be found in most universities, if probed thoroughly.

The government spends money on them for academics, not for political activities. These students are misusing the government facilities and shouting anti-national and anti-government slogans. Does our Constitution allow such slogans?

Many prominent leaders emerging from student politics have made an immense contribution to the country. How can you say that students should altogether refrain from politics?

One thing is clear; campuses are meant only for studies. The government does not give them money for politics.

Your letter suggests AMU students are supporting their JNU counterparts. How will you react if they take out a procession in solidarity with JNU students?

The students will have to face dire consequences. The V-C, Zameer Uddin Shah, is a retired army officer. I don't think he will allow such activities in the AMU campus. This is all I would say at this moment.

"Students who wish to engage in politics should quit campuses. We welcome youth in politics"

Is your government considering the withdrawal of minority status from AMU?

We are not talking about ending the current minority status of the university. But, we want Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs to be given their due share.

Do you agree that the communal situation has worsened in Western UP, including Aligarh, after your government has come to power?

This is a wrong allegation. The number of riots have reduced across the country after Modi has become the Prime Minister. It is the state government that has failed to tackle the communal tensions in different parts of the state.

A leader of your party and Aligarh mayor, Shakuntla Bharti, had raised the issue of beef in AMU. Now, she has talked about protecting cows and girls in the campus?

I have no objection to the serving of buffalo meat in the AMU. As far as the protection of girls is concerned, I would not like to comment (laughs).

Translated by Deepak Sharma

First published: 1 March 2016, 10:49 IST