Protesting against Gandhi’s trip to FTII, BJP activists carrying saffron and black flags marched in a vociferous procession, raising slogans and accused him of politicizing the issue.
However, Gandhi continued to support to the striking Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students opposing the appointment of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman. He said their demand was “justified” and the government “must talk” to the student community.
“If they talk, it will only increase the government’s stature… the students are here only to study. But, now their academics are getting affected… I feel the government must have a dialogue with them,” Gandhi, attired in a dark t-shirt and blue jeans, urged while addressing the media after his interaction with the students.
He added that the students feel the government is attempting “to impose its will” on the student community which can be be resolved through talks, and questioned why the government was feeling insecure by the (students’) protests.
Gandhi decried attempts by certain elements to pin anti-national and anti-Hindu labels on the 200-plus students who have been agitating since the past 50 days over the issue, and demanded to know why “they want only one idea”.
On whether he would raise the issue in parliament, Gandhi assured that he would support them in all possible manner whenever required, and lauded the students saying he was proud of them.
“The real question is — how strongly are you willing to fight this issue? I am ready to fight with you,” he assured.
Over 200 students of FTII have been agitating against the appointment of Chauhan as the institute’s chairman. They have boycotted classes and have been threatened with disciplinary action.
Some students had written a letter to Gandhi and sought his intervention in the issue, besides raising it in parliament.
They pointed out how after Gandhi recently took up the cause of students at the IIT Madras, which had banned their Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, the restriction was revoked last month.
Earlier, prominent former students, including actors and top Bollywood personalities have supported the students agitation against Chauhan’s appointment.
FTII is a premier institute for film-related studies, and has produced noted alumni like like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Jahnu Barua, Shabana Azmi, Santosh Sivan and Naseeruddin Shah.