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Rahul Gandhi backs FTII students

Rahul Gandhi interacting with FTII students in Pune on Friday. Photo Courtesty: Official Twitter handle of Rahul Gandhi  

Endorsing his support for the agitating Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday lashed out against the Sangh Parivar and the Narendra Modi-led BJP government for “systematically promoting mediocrity” in India’s academic institutions.

The students have been on an >indefinite strike seeking the removal of TV actor-turned-BJP party member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute.

Mr. Gandhi’s visit to FTII campus is the first major instance of political backing for the students agitating for Mr. Chauhan’s removal and the reconstitution of the FTII governing council, four of whose members are known Sangh propagandists.

“This is not only being done in the FTII but there is a consistent, systematic assault on India's academic and democratic institutions by the government at the Centre,” said Mr. Gandhi, speaking to about 250 agitating students in a packed open session on the FTII premises as the strike entered its 50th day.

“Why do you think the government is so disturbed by your protests?” asked Mr. Gandhi.

Lambasting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its sister organisations, Rahul Gandhi remarked that the RSS was the ideological mentor of the BJP. “The government cannot impose itself and upset the students’ peace of mind,” Mr. Gandhi said. 

The FTII Students' Association (FSA) has urged Mr. Gandhi to take up the issue in the Parliament.

Mr. Gandhi was accompanied by a retinue of actors-turned-Congress leaders, including Raj Babbar and Chiranjeevi.

Earlier in a letter to Mr. Gandhi, the FSA had requested the Congress vice-president to take up the FTII students’ issue in a manner similar to that of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT-Madras. The ban on the Dalit students' body, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) was finally revoked later.

FTII Limbo

Gajendra Chauhan, an actor-turned-politician, was appointed as the chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) on June 9, 2015. His appointment triggered an >indefinite strike by students of the institute on June 12.

Who is Chauhan?

Mr. Chauhan is best known as 'Yudhisthira' in the Mahabharata TV series aired on television in 1988-90. He has been associated with BJP for over two decades but formally joined the party in 2004.

Why protest?

Students of FTII have questioned Mr. Chauhan's body of work and "creative credentials." The students doubt if Mr. Chauhan can fit in the shoes of predecessors like R.K. Laxman, Syam Benegal, Girish Karnad and U.R. Ananthamurthy.

Political vendetta?

Students claim that Mr. Chauhan's appointment is an attempt of the ruling party to foist its right-wing agenda upon the Institute.


Besides, prominent film personalities, All India Students' Association (AISA), the Kolkata-based Satyajit Ray Film Institute, and students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are all coming out strongly in support of the striking students.

  • If they don't want you, they don't want you. Pushing for the chairmanship is getting you no where. Let self pride play a role and retire

    - >Rishi Kapoor

  • FTII needs to be in safe hands. Students need somebody who they can trust and look up to. It's their future which is at stake here.

    >- Rajkumar Rao

  • This is something we should be talking about and by this we will clearly know that it is a mistake and that he has no credentials...If I would have been in place of Chauhan and I would have seen that my fraternity does not want me, I would have withdrawn.

    >- Amol Palekar

  • Don't think what the students are asking for is illogical, don't think they are asking for the moon. They are just asking for a fair chance, a fair opportunity, correct faculty, correct syllabus.

    - Ranbir Kapoor

  • I have neither been approached by students nor by authorities. But being an alumnus of this institute to which I owe my film career, I am more than willing to step in and sort out matters if given the chance to do so.

    - >Shatrughan Sinha

Prominent chairmen

Anwar Jamal Kidwai
(1974 - 1977)

First chairman, founder of Mass Communication Research centre at Jamia Millia Islamia.

>R.K. Laxman
(1977- 1980)

Legendary cartoonist, Padma Bhushan, Vibhushan. Known for creating the character "Common Man".

> Shyam Benegal
(1981 - 1983)
(1989 - 1992)

Known for pioneering parallel cinema. Recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award among others.

> Mahesh Bhatt
(1995- 1998)

Award-winning director, screenwriter, producer in mainstream Hindi cinema.

>U.R. Ananthamurthy

Eminent author, Padma Bhushan. Pioneered Navya movement in Kannada language.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 5:18:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rahul-gandhi-backs-ftii-students/article7485198.ece

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