A day after MP Sandeep Dikshit said that St. Stephen's College, his alma mater, is being run like a communal institution, the college principal lashed out against him.
In a press conference, Valson Thampu, the college principal, said those who allege communalism in college are duty-bound to present the grounds and instances of such behaviour. "It is a sad day in the saga of democracy and secularism when an MP can't differentiate between minority rights and communalism," he said.
Dikshit, however, stuck to his allegations. "The character of the college has always been secular despite the minority institution status that it enjoys. But in the past couple of years, the students and faculty have told me about the meetings that have taken place inside the college to promote Christianity. My anguish is totally of an ex-student," he said.
In November 2009, Dikshit had been nominated as the alumnus representative in the Governing Body of the college. He had neither accepted the nomination, nor did he attend any of the four governing body meetings held since then. In the fourth meeting, which was held on Tuesday, the members of the governing body decided to nominate a new alumnus member.
"I got a letter saying that I have been appointed a member of the governing council by virtue of being an alumnus. I never asked them to take me in the governing body. After that, I started getting agendas of the governing council meetings and the minutes of those meetings. Students and teachers started coming to me with their issues," Dikshit said.
The nomination of a new member, however, was not on Tuesday's agenda. According to Thampu, who is also the member secretary of the governing body, the topic did not need to be on the agenda. "The names of the absentees were noted and then this decision was taken," he said.
But some other former students also expressed problems with the way the college was functioning. "As an individual, I agree with Dikshit," said Arvind Malhotra, an alumnus, who is also the general secretary of the Alumni Association.
In Tuesday's meeting, Justice Sanjay Krishna Kaul of the Delhi Hight Court bench was nominated by Thampu as the alumnus representative.
A case against Thampu, challenging his Ph.D in Theology from Allahabad Agricultural University, is going on in the high court. "Kaul is of impeachable integrity. My case is not being heard by him. Any allegation that judges can be influenced is a slur on the judiciary," said Thampu.