The Union education ministry is set to conduct the second edition of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam, under which about 1,400 people from Tamil Nadu will be provided free tours of Varanasi, Allahabad and Ayodhya in December.
Banaras Hindu University (BHU) will host the delegates during the fortnight-long event, which some faculty members have termed a “political project” that is being thrust on an educational institution.
They have argued that conducting such tours is not part of the responsibilities of the education ministry or its institutions.
According to the ministry, the programme proposes to revive the living bonds between Varanasi and Tamil Nadu, key centres of learning and culture in ancient India, by facilitating people-to-people contact.
IIT Madras has launched a portal to register those looking to be part of the December 17-30 programme.
The delegates will travel by train in seven groups to Varanasi, Allahabad and Ayodhya. A media release issued by the education ministry said the delegates would visit places of historical, tourist and religious interest and interact with the people of Uttar Pradesh.
The first edition of the Sangamam was held in November-December last year when more than 2,500 people from Tamil Nadu travelled to Varanasi, Allahabad and Ayodhya.
Two faculty members at BHU said the government had pressured the university into hosting the delegates. “BHU is an Institution of Eminence. It is expected to undertake cutting-edge research and offer quality education,” one of them said.
“Holding a tour programme and extending hospitality to such delegations certainly does not come under the university’s responsibilities.”
Last year, the university allowed the amphitheatre near its sports complex to host the delegates. “This is misuse of the facility. The university administration is doing this
because the education ministry wants it to,” the academic said.
Another BHU faculty member called the programme a political project of the BJP.
He said the ruling party was keen to make inroads into Tamil Nadu through such activities.
“The vice-chancellors do not object to any diktat of the government. And these kinds of political activities are increasing on campuses,” he said. “The university guesthouse is occupied throughout the year by RSS delegates who keep coming for discussions or some other programmes.”
Emails have been sent to BHU vice-chancellor Sudhir Jain and higher education
secretary Sanjay Murthy seeking their comments on the allegation that the Sangamam involves the misuse of an educational institution’s resources. Their responses are awaited.