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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

At Maharashtra varsity, BJP scissors on one Laxmibai; girls' hostel named after RSS leader

In January, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV) decided to name the newly constructed girls’ hostel after Laxmibai Kelkar, founder of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti — the women’s wing of the RSS. The move overturned its earlier decision to name the hostel after Rani Laxmibai

Basant Kumar Mohanty Wardha Published 17.04.24, 07:08 AM
The girls’ hostel in Wardha named after RSS leader Laxmibai Kelkar

The girls’ hostel in Wardha named after RSS leader Laxmibai Kelkar Sourced by The Telegraph

A central university in Wardha, Maharashtra, has quietly dropped “Rani” from the name Rani Laxmibai and added “Kelkar” instead to name a girls’ hostel, marking a favour for a leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the cost of a great freedom fighter.

In January this year, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV) decided to name the newly constructed girls’ hostel after Laxmibai Kelkar, founder of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti— the women’s wing of the RSS.

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The move overturned its earlier decision to name the hostel after Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, a pivotal figure in the 1857 rebellion against the British. Certain academics described the actions by the central university as cheating and an insult to the great fighter who laid down her life for the nation.

The hostel was constructed with funds released by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The annual reports of the MGAHV for 2017-18 and 2018-19 mentioned that the university had received funds to set up Rani Laxmibai Girls’ Hostel. Former vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Girishwar Misra, said that during his tenure as VC, then Maharashtra governor Mridula Sinha had laid the foundation for the Rani
Laxmibai Hostel.

However, things have taken a sharp turn after that. An order issued by the university on January 23, 2024, mentioned the name as Laxmibai Kelkar Girls’ Hostel. The decision was taken when Prof. Rajaneesh Kumar Shukla was the vice-chancellor. Shukla resigned from the post in August 2023.

“Its name was decided by the executive council during the initial construction phase of the hostel. The executive council has the authority to determine the names of halls, hostels and other university buildings,” Shukla wrote in reply to a message on WhatsApp.

Y.J. Rayalu, a faculty member at Dharampeth Science College, Nagpur, said the act of the university amounted to cheating.

“It is a case of cheating and insulting our freedom fighters. Someone should move court,” he said.

The university has been named after Gandhi and has nurtured secular education, he said. No building or facility inside the university should be named after any RSS or Hindu Mahasabha leaders, he added.

A committee of the university on beautification of the campus has recommended that MGAHV should install a 108-foot statue of Vivekananda in meditation posture on the campus. It will be the world’s largest statue of Vivekananda.

The committee has also recommended that the existing hospital on the campus be named after Baliram Hedgewar, who started the RSS in 1925. The prayer of the RSS underlines the vision of making India a Hindu nation.

The university has a statue of Gandhi. The university spreads over five hills. One of the hills is known as Vivekananda Hill. The committee also recommended that the hill in front of Vivekananda Hill should be named after Narendra Modi. A swadeshi vatika would be developed where statues of Gandhi, Jamunalal Bajaj, social reformer Vinoba Bhave, and Dattopant Thengdi, founder of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, would be installed.

According to the minutes of the meeting of the committee, a garden to be named Panchavati will be set up on Vivekananda Hill. The guest house will be named after Swami Premananda, the brother of Vivekananda. A canteen in Vivekananda Hill will be named after Swami Sadananda, a disciple of Vivekananda.

An email has been sent to acting registrar Dharvesh Katheriya to understand his perspective on the criticism that the university is drifting away from its secular legacy and also about the change in the name of the girls’ hostel. His response is awaited.

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