Seeing red over Rahul
The Tamil Nadu Higher Education Department is probing into how permission was granted for an interaction of a political leader with students at a government aided college a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed a gathering of young college students in Chennai. Citing the Model Code of Conduct that came into place on March 10, Director of Tamil Nadu Higher Education Department wrote to her Joint Director to immediately look into how permission was granted.
As part of his campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi addressed students at the Stella Maris College of Arts and Science in Chennai last Wednesday. On Thursday, in a notice marked ‘Very Urgent’, Higher Education Director Charumathi wrote to her joint director regarding the event, specifying that the college where it was held is a government aided institution.
“There are several media reports that a political leader participated in an interaction with students at Stella Maris College, Chennai-86, on 13.3.2019. At a time when the Model Code of Conduct is in place for the 2019 Parliamentary Elections, please immediately probe into how permission was granted for such an event and revert to this office,” she cited.
Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the college was televised live, and around 3,000 students had participated, was doing the rounds of the internet. RaGa took questions from the students as well as promised to bring in reservation for women in government jobs at all levels. Rahul also mentioned that Congress would pass the Women’s Reservation Bill to ensure more women are represented in the state legislatures and the Parliament.
“He understood his audience well and spoke about specific topics like women empowerment and the education system in the country,” said Karishma Angela Vincent, A third-year student. He also promised that 33 per cent of government jobs at all levels will be reserved for women if the Congress comes to power.
“Frankly, I don’t see enough women in leadership positions. This is a starting point and we cannot have women empowerment in India without a change in attitude and there is a lot to change with this attitude because I’m a believer that women generally are smarter than men, Rahul’s aid as a response,” she adds.
Further highlighting the divide created by the current government, Rahul Gandhi aid there is an ideological battle going on in India. “The religious, cultural divide is clear; he said and underlined the fact that the idea of the nationalism in the country is being defined by two ideologies. One is a unifying ideology that says that all people of the country should live together and shouldn’t be dominated by one idea. The other ideology the other is that of the Modi government. If one defines them, they are termed anti-national, he said and the ideological shift is harm to development,” Karishma said
Speaking to DC, Third-year sociology student Abinayaa Sampath said that the question was a follow up after a slew of them on demonetisation and the recent Pulwama attacks. “Rahul Gandhi was speaking about how money is abused in the hands of the rich.
Through that, many more questions, including the one on Robert Vadra was shot at him, to watch the replied that everyone should be investigated with such ease,” she said.
“Rahul Gandhi has come to interact with students. He didn’t conduct any election campaign in the college. PM Modi also goes to interact with students and so do many other politicians and celebrities. There is nothing wrong in a political leaders going to college to interact with students,” said Kaviya, a city youngster.
“We personally feel the congress is trying to source support from the minority communities by using institutions that fall under that category. They should source support from the general public by organising campaigns at public places rather than targeting minority institutions to extend support for themselves by using the religion as a key.
“Educational institutions should maintain the sole purpose of their existence and restrain from indulging in active politics directly and indirectly. Influencing students using religion as a key is the least sensible act any educational institution can do,” stated Sriram Ramakrishnan, a city student.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee said that Rahul’s interaction with students is not a violation of the model code of conduct as the event was planned months ago. “The college students’ association had invited him as an MP and not as the Congress President,” said the committee.
As far as the alliances go, BJP has tied up with ten partners across six states and the Congress has formed alliances in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka so far and talks are in process for other states. But what is going to be interesting is that perhaps the battle of personalities will overshadow the alliance game. The entire narrative that had built up (until February 14) of livelihood concerns, rural distress, lack of job opportunities, and so on suddenly seem to have take over by the new narrative that the Narendra Modi govt. is wanting people to see-that of the Balakot strike and also prior to that the interim budget 2019-20.
But in a nation like India, where the majority of the population is youth and with 1.5cr first time voters exercising their right this Lok Sabha elections, the recent incident of alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct has given the opposition an upper hand where youngsters are debating the importance of involvement of youth in political discourse inside college premises.