The row over the letter sent by the principal of St Xavier’s College to its students that was uploaded on the college website, criticising the Gujarat model of development, has intensified. This is after the BJP filed a complaint with the Election Commission against the principal, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, citing violation of the model code of conduct.
“As the college is a government-aided institution, Mascarenhas has violated the code of conduct. As the head of an educational institution he has tried to influence his students,” said Ashish Shelar, president of the Mumbai unit of the BJP.
While stating that they are not against anyone excising their democratic right of freedom of speech, Shelar said Mascarenhas should have been cautious and kept his personal political views to himself.
Unfazed by the complaint and disapproval of many against his letter, Mascarenhas said he stands firmly by his words.
“The letter merely discusses issues regarding good governance and two types of development models. Nowhere have I asked students not to vote for a particular party or influenced them in any way,” he said.
“I was just fulfilling my part as an educator to encourage students to vote, and vote wisely,” he added.
While some academicians have raised objections to the principal’s letter, the BJP’s action of approaching the Election Commission was not received too well.
“An accomplished educator like him should have known that sending out such emails so close to the elections would not be a good idea. However, the BJP also seems to be blowing it out of proportion. This ruckus should have been avoided by both,” said the principal of a college in Vile Parle.