IIT Madras row - 'IIT student group banned for criticising the Narendra Modi Government. What next? Free speech is our right. We will fight any attempt to crush dissent and debate,' Rahul Gandhi said.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and HRD Minister Smriti Irani were on Friday locked in a spat after protests by NSUI workers outside her official residence over derecognition of a student group by IIT Madras.
While Rahul Gandhi said the derecognition was aimed at “crushing dissent” and he will fight such attempts, Irani shot back challenging him for a debate on the issue of governance, including education, and accused him of fighting his battles hiding behind NSUI.
“IIT student group banned for criticising the Modi Government. What next? Free speech is our right. We will fight any attempt to crush dissent and debate,” Rahul said on the twitter account of his office.
Replying to him in a series of tweets, Irani said, “next time fight ur (your) battles ur (your)self, don’t hide behind NSUI. N (And) by d (the) way I’m returning to Amethi soon. See you there.”
Challenging Rahul, she said, “give me a time n (and) place n (and) I’m ready to debate everything re (regarding) governance including education.”
She added, “tell ur (your) men strong arm tactics were tried in Amethi n (and) didn’t scare me during Lok Sabha elections. They won’t scare me now.”
She also said, “yesterday u (you) told NSUI to create disorder where there is order. Today ur (your) goons come to my house as I’m away at work.”
The political slugfest erupted after the Indian Institute of Technology Madras was at the centre of controversy over derecognition of a students group, many of whom are Dalits, following a complaint that it was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Irani backed IIT’s action, saying the institution has clearly stated that some procedures by the students’ organisation was not followed and it knew that Dean will derecognise it for violating norms.
Scores of NSUI workers today protested outside Irani’s official residence in Delhi over the issue. The protesters from Congress’ students wing raised anti-government slogans and accused the HRD Ministry of being behind the action against the body.
Meanwhile, AICC also released copies of the anonymous complaint made in the name of students of IIT Madras against the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) along with the pamphlet issued by the APSC, which was critical of Modi government.
The AICC has also released the letter purportedly written by an Under Secretary in HRD ministry to the Director of IIT Madras on May 15.
In the letter, the officer, while forwarding to the IIT Madras the anonymous letter of complaint against APSC and its pamphlet critical of Modi government, had sought “comments” of the institute to be sent to the ministry at an early date.
AICC Communication Department in-charge Randeep Surjewala took pothshots at Irani saying there are rumours about her being dropped from the ministry.
“Our sympathies with Smriti Iraniji. We know she has just been unceremoniously dropped from National Executive of BJP by Amit Shah. Political circles are agog with news of her likely to be dropped on account of mess in Education sector in last one year.
“Irani needs to find lost political ground inside her party and not fire from the shoulders of Congress party. Of course, if she needs a recommendation, we will consider it subject to review of her performance in HRD,” Surjewala said sarcastically.