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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Yogi Adityanath and student activists trade barbs

UP CM Yogi Adityanath referred to students who stopped his motorcade at Lucknow University as “followers of Naxal ideology”.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2017 16:10 IST
Rajeev Mullick
Rajeev Mullick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
File photo of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
File photo of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.(PTI)

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath started a controversy on Wednesday by referring to students who stopped his motorcade at Lucknow University as “followers of Naxal ideology”.

Adityanath was at the university to commemorate the memory of the Maratha king Shivaji. He made his comment about “Naxal ideology” at the event.

The protest was led by student outfits of the Left and the Samajwadi Party. Adityanath’s remarks drew criticism from a variety of student organisations across the country. “How can the CM call students extremists and Naxalite?” asked Shehla Rashid, the former vice president of the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), in a phone interview. “Yogi Adityanath should withdraw his statement.” 

The young Dalit rights activist from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, also criticised Adityanath. “I was not surprised when Yogi used those words for students. I also tried to stop PM Modi’s vehicle; then should I also be called a Naxalite? In a democracy people have every right to protest.” 

Student leaders from Allahabad University and Lucknow University expressed similar sentiments. Richa Singha, the former student president of Allahabad University, said the chief minister’s statement exemplified a larger, and disturbing, trend.

“All these examples show how the BJP is trying hard to suppress voices of protest by using terms like ‘anti-national’ and ‘Naxal’,” she said. “We are moving towards an era of emergency. UP under Yogi is going to be the laboratory of this emergency.”

Shreyat Boudh, a Dalit student at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), suggested that Adityanath follow the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke at BBAU last year and faced student protesters without denigrating them.

Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad did not see anything wrong with the chief minister’s statement. “The chief minister should not have been stopped from going to the campus,” said Vinay Bidre, the general secretary of the student group. “He went there to attend a function, and student leaders should not have protested it.”

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 16:10 IST

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