They maybe among India’s tallest leaders but former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi have found no place in a string of new portraits installed on the walls of one of India’s most prestigious universities.
Students of Banaras Hindu University’s political science department have put up photographs of prominent figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar and APJ Abdul Kalam but the absence of Nehru and Indira has triggered charges of saffronisation.
Several students said the omission was a deliberate act to influence young students ahead of the crucial 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is pinning its hopes on a good show.
“Images of select leaders like VD Savarakar are there to propagate their ideology among the students. When the students look at the images, they will try to know about them,” a student told HT.
But authorities denied the allegations, saying only the students could answer why Nehru and Indira were dropped as they arranged the funds for the portraits through individual contributions. BHU vice-chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi will unveil the pictures on Tuesday.
“Students prepared the list. It isn’t a move to saffronise anyone. I feel they should also know about great Indian leaders and the theories they propounded,” said Kaushal Kishore Mishra, head of the political science department.
One of India’s oldest universities, BHU is celebrating its centenary year and continues to be an important seat of learning, attracting thousands of students from around the country. The institution played an important role in the freedom struggle and continues to be a hub of political thought and activity.