Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi protested on July 14 prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally scheduled for July 15 inside the university campus, demanding its cancellation.
Varanasi is the Legislative Assembly constituency of Modi and prior to state and general elections in the past, the PM has visited his political turf to garner support.
Since the onset of COVID19 in early 2020, all the academic activities inside the campus have been put on hold and the online mode of education was taken up by the departments. The protest on Wednesday was organised by Bhagat Singh Chhatra Morcha (BCM), a left-Ambedkarite students organisation in the university.
Students said that the district authorities and the university administration have sidelined the COVID19 guidelines and rules in place to give a green signal for the rally. Protesting students further said that the university campus belongs to the students and not the personal property of a vice-chancellor or any political party. Modi’s political rally in a higher educational institute raises questions about the administration of the university that has allowed the campus to become a platform for the ruling regime to promote itself.
The rally will potentially bring a crowd of more than 6,000 people, students alleged that it might lead to the spread of the virus on the campus given how previously political rallies in other places in the country have increased the daily caseload in the area.
The protesting students led by the student leaders of BCM met with Vijay Kumar Shukla, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, and submitted a memorandum demanding the cancellation of the rally and opening up of classes and hostel facilities on the campus to its full capacity with necessary measures for the students.
Modi is visiting Varanasi today, ahead of state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate and lay foundation stones of multiple development projects in the city. There is a general discontent in the state given the severe mismanagement of the BJP government under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath and Modi’s rally is seen as an effort from the party’s side to reclaim the angry voter base.