Row over college principal's advice to students on voting

Row over college principal's advice to students on voting

The principal of St Xavier's College here has courted a controversy after sending an advisory to his students which is critical of Narendra Modi's 'Gujarat Model' of development.

Talking to PTI here today, principal Father Frazer Mascarenhas, however, defended his action, saying his note was not against any specific individual or party.

"I have not mentioned any particular individual or organisation in my communication. It was intended only to serve as a broad understanding before students exercised their right to vote," he said. "There's nothing more to the letter," Father Mascarenhas said.

The principal's email to his students which is also posted on the college website reads, "All the Human Development Index indicators and the cultural polarisation of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience in the last 10 years.

It acknowledges Congress's Food Security and Rojgar Yojana schemes. Efforts like the Rojgar Yojana and the Food Security Act have been called "election sops", it said adding "some of our best social scientists like Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have supported these as necessary in the emergency economic situation the country and the world is facing."

The note advises students not to support leaders who are a threat to secular fabric of India. "The prospect of an alliance of corporate capital and communal forces coming to power constitutes a real threat to the future of our secular democracy.

Meanwhile, when asked why he had sent out such a mail during elections, he told a newspaper, "I have given some considerations for evaluating the (Gujarat) model and also talked about other models, like the Congress government....I am trying to be as impartial as possible; it is my responsibility to encourage my students to vote.

"The 'Gujarat Model' is being discussed in every media as a successful model and I am throwing light on what I think, which also needs to be looked at," he said.