Face-off at Calicut University: SFI blocks gates of hall to ‘stop entry of pro-Sangh Senate members’

The protesters blocked the gates of the hall of the university when the members reached there to attend the meeting.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 21, 2023 | 1:15 PMUpdatedDec 21, 2023 | 1:15 PM

SFI protest

Tension prevailed at the Calicut University campus on Thursday, 21 December, after workers of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) prevented the entry of a section of Senate members, over their alleged “Sangh Parivar background”.

The protesters blocked the gates of the hall of the university when the members reached there to attend the meeting.

However, they allowed the entry of Senate members, excluding those allegedly linked to Sangh Parivar. SFI has been protesting against Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan as well over appointment of Senate members with RSS affiliations.

‘Sangh Parivar nominees will never be allowed’

The Left student outfit stated that the Sangh Parivar nominees would never be allowed into the hall where the Senate is meeting, and they assert that this stance will be implemented.

The members had come to attend the first meeting of the new Senate nominated by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. The protesting SFI workers were later removed by police.

Governor Khan has faced SFI protests in the last few weeks over the controversial appointments he made to the Kerala and Calicut universities as Senators.

The Governor rejected the list submitted by the state government and unilaterally filled the vacancies based on the suggestions allegedly from the state unit of the BJP.

The SFI has been staging widespread protests against the Governor, alleging that he has been pushing BJP-RSS nominees to the Senate of various universities in the state using his authority as the Chancellor.

SFI president Anusree said that the Governor ignored the University list and pushed the Sangh Parivar nominees in the Senate. “The Chancellor has been behaving like a fascist. If he behaves so, he needs to stay outside the campuses. We will stage protests to safeguard secular campuses from communal forces,” Anusree said.

The SFI, the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M), has been alleging that Khan’s actions were part of the saffronisation agenda of the BJP.

Also Read: CM Vijayan, Governor Khan, and minority politics in Kerala

Row over KPCC chief’s statement

Meanwhile, a row over the statement of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief K Sudhakaran, expressing support for the alleged nomination of Sangh Parivar supporters to university Senates by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, acting in his capacity as the Chancellor is continuing in the state.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi on 19 December, Sudhakaran said that Sangh Parivar is a party in democracy, and therefore, there is no reason to oppose the nomination of qualified individuals, even if they are affiliated with such outfits.

He also said that the Congress will examine whether the nominees of the Chancellor are qualified and eligible for their posts. If they are found to be unqualified, the party would oppose such appointments.

Sudhakaran made the controversial remarks while responding to queries on allegations by the CPI(M) that the Governor nominated supporters from Congress and the Muslim League, alongside Sangh Parivar backers.

Sudhakaran distanced the Congress from the Governor’s actions, stating, “We are not responsible for the actions of the Chancellor.” However, Sudhakaran acknowledged the presence of Sangh Parivar supporters among the academics but said, “We are not opposing that.”

Also Read: Row erupts in KPCC chief’s support for Governor’s Senate nominees

‘Look at qualification, not political affiliation’

Defending the Governor’s alleged actions, Sudhakaran said that if the nominees are qualified, their affiliation with Sangh Parivar should not be a deterrent.

He justified Governor Khan’s decisions, saying that the nominations were made in line with his responsibilities as Chancellor.

“Let them be nominated. If it consists only of Sangh Parivar activists, then we can oppose it. If there are good people among them (Sangh Parivar), how can we oppose their nomination? There are lots of good people in the Congress. When they are nominated to the Senate, we are happy. We accept that,” Sudhakaran said, justifying Khan’s actions.

Responding to the CPI(M)’s allegations of a disproportionate representation of Sangh Parivar supporters, Congress supporters, and IUML supporters in the Calicut University Senate, Sudhakaran said that the primary focus should be on evaluating the qualifications and merits of individuals appointed to the Senate rather than getting involved in political considerations.

He emphasised that the criteria for selection should be based on the academic and professional capabilities of the appointees, rather than their political allegiances.

(With PTI inputs)