New Delhi: "Union HRD minister is acting like the patron saint of ABVP", eight Opposition parties including Congress, Left and AAP on Tuesday said while accusing the Modi government of harassing Allahabad University Student's Union President Richa Singh.
Drawing parallel with dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide in Hyderabad University and the JNU row involving Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest, leaders from the parties in a joint statement trained their guns on HRD minister Smriti Irani reminding her that she is a minister of the entire country and not just the RSS and BJP.
Jairam Ramesh and Rajeev Shukla (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), K C Tyagi (JD-U), Javed Ali Khan (Samajwdi Party), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Bhagwant Man (AAP) and Jaiprakash Yadav (RJD), who signed the joint statement said they are "aghast" that University administration across the region are "hunting" students, who have a different view than that of the ABVP.
"We are agonized over the fact that the first ever lady President of Allahabad University Student's Union Richa Singh is being harassed by the administration...," they said.
"A government, which refuses to learn that autonomy of education institution is foundation of democracy, is sowing widespread discontent in campuses by its blatant support to ABVP's goondaism," they said. Noting that Richa Singh, a PhD scholar, had won as an independent candidate in Allahabad University while all the other seats were won by ABVP, the leaders claimed that she came into the eye of the storm for protesting against the proposed visit of BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.
"ABVP members allegedly attacked the protestors but instead of investigating the attack, an enquiry was set up on Richa Singh herself. Further, there is a move now by the Vice Chancelor to declare her admission null and void, using some technical grounds, in order to get rid of what appears to be the only thorn in ABVP's side.
"We are aghast that University administration across the region are hunting students, who have a different view thatn the ABVP," the said.
Alleging that the HRD Minister is acting like the "patron saint of ABVP", they said, "we wish to remind her that she is a minister of this vast, diverse country and not just the RSS/BJP.
"It is her responsibility to encourage and protect all Constitutitional freedoms in University campuses. If Richa Singh is made a victim of ABVP's diktats, on the heels of Rohith Vemula and Kanhaiya Kumar, then the students of this nation will be forced to rise in revolt," the statement said.