War of words erupts between Tushar Gandhi and Smriti Irani over youth icons

While Tushar Gandhi hailed students leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar, Irani stood “condemned and nudged”.

pune Updated: Jan 19, 2018 23:25 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Indian Students Parliament (ISP),Bharatiya Chatra Sansad,Tushar Gandhi
Union minister of information and broadcasting Smriti Irani at the 8th Bharatiya Chatra Sansad held at MIT- WPU Kothrud campus in Pune on Friday.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

The very first session of the Indian Students Parliament (ISP) at the MIT World Peace University witnessed a furious war of words between Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and Union minister for information and broadcasting, Smriti Irani over the choice of icons for the youth today.

While Gandhi advised the 7,000 strong gathering to take inspiration from young leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani, who, he said, “have exhibited the guts to question the establishment,” Irani lashed out at Gandhi saying that she stood “condemned and nudged” by Gandhi who spoke for a particular section of the society.

“I stand condemned for I would never embrace the words ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’. I stand condemned because I say with pride ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai,’” a visibly furious Irani said.

There was a mixed response from the students as Gandhi praised Kumar, the former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, Patel, the leader of the Patidar community in Gujarat and the newly elected Dalit lawyer and MLA, Jignesh Mevani.

Irani on the other hand, received a thunderous response from the audience. The cheering and applause from the students made it evident that they stood by her in the debate.

The speakers were addressing a huge gathering of over 7,000 students at the first session of ISP, a non-political platform to sensitize and harness the power of youth. Held annually at the MIT-WPU Kothrud campus, distinguished speakers across the political spectrum, and successful individuals come under one roof and address students.

‘Indian Democracy in Black and White’ was the theme for the first session.

Gandhi said that Indian democracy is neither completely white nor completely black. It has many shades of grey in it. “It is indispensable to have a larger view to this aspect as well”.

Taking a jibe at Gandhi, Irani said, “They say, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. To me the colour of democracy is not black and white but it is cultural, multifaceted colours in absolute vibrancy. Democracy is full of rainbow colours”. She said it was very satisfying to see students from across the nation assemble at the gathering and listen to different opinions and ideals. “This is the beauty of democracy,” she underscored.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar encourages youth to join politics

Earlier, the event was inaugurated by Prakash Javdekar, Union minister for human resource development who said the beauty of Indian democracy was such that even a tea seller could become the Prime Minister and likewise, a Dalit boy from a middle class family could become the President

“This is the strength of democracy where everyone gets equal opportunity regardless of an individual’s cast, creed and religion,” he said.

The minister expressed the need for more innovation in the country. He also encouraged the youth to join politics.

Vinod Tawde, the state minister for Higher and Technical Education, congratulated Rahul Karad, executive president, MIT-WPU, and the founder of ISP for the initiative.

Urging every student to join politics he said, “Like the Indian Administrative Service, there is a need to establish the Indian Political Service as well.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 23:24 IST