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Will act against MU prof. for ‘Pappu’ tweet: minister

Let him return from leave, says Anil Deshmukh; what about JNU professors, asks BJP

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government will take action against a Mumbai University professor for an ‘abusive’ post against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced on Thursday. On December 14, the professor had posted a video on Twitter targeting Mr. Gandhi for his statement against V.D. Savarkar, referring to him as ‘Pappu’. The professor has since been sent on forced leave by the university administration. “A university professor’s work is to teach children, not give statements like these (on Mr. Gandhi). He has been sent on leave for now but action will be taken once he is back,” said Mr. Deshmukh.

Professor Yogesh Soman, Director of the Academy of Theatre Arts at Mumbai University, had posted the video on December 14. Mr. Soman had said, referring to Mr. Gandhi, “You are right, you are not Savarkar. You have nothing of him in you, his dedication, his sacrifice, his valour, but you also do not have anything to be called Gandhi. I condemn your pappugiri (sic).”

The tweet set in motion a political blame game, with members of the Chhatra Bharti Students Union and activists of AISF (All India Students’ Federation) staging a sit-in, which was withdrawn after the Mumbai University general secretary issued a letter stating Mr. Soman had been sent on forced leave. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had called that a violation of the professor’s freedom of speech. “According to @INCIndia, criticising a venerated freedom fighter like Veer Savarkar is perfectly okay. But dare anyone criticise His Highness @RahulGandhi or anyone from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, they will be sent on forced leave! Hypocrisy, thy name is Congress,” the ABVP tweeted, soon after.

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) too criticised the announcement to send Mr. Deshmukh on leave.

BJP leader Shweta Shalini said by the same token, action should be taken against professors protesting in Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Really, what about all the professors in JNU who are participating in marches, sloganeering and stone-pelting? What’s their work, and guess what the Fascist government is doing against them? Nothing,” she said.

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