Nine Gujarat Vidyapith trustees – Narsih Hathila, Dr Sudarshan Iyangar, Dr Anamik Shah, Manda Parikh, Uttam Parmar, Chaitanya Bhatt, Neeta Hardikar, Michael Mazgaonkar and Kapil Shah – who have resigned over the move to make Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, an RSS man, the Vidyapith’s new Chancellor, issued a joint statement on Tuesday.
They said that the appointment of Devvrat as the new Chancellor “was rushed through, not by consensus but by a badly fractured vote”. They further said, ““Gandhi’s philosophy cannot be reduced to mere natural farming, cattle breeding or nature cure,” referring to the election of a non-Gandhian to the top post.
Interestingly, the Vidyapith issued a statement saying resignations of eight trustees haven’t been accepted.
The trustees said that their action has “no anger, without malice towards any individual, and with the utmost humility.”
Their statement said, “We humbly appeal to the newly selected Chancellor that as you would be aware of the circumstances of your selection… It was neither spontaneous nor the unanimous decision of the Board of Trustees. It was under crass political pressure. It was in total disregard of Gandhi’s values, methods and practices. How can that do credit to your honour and dignity? Your Excellency, to uphold the fundamental values of democracy and transparent autonomous decision-making, you have the opportunity to set an example by declining to take charge as Chancellor.”
Alleging “unreasonable demands” made by certain officials, the joint statement stated, “These ranged from the appointee must not be an adherent of a certain religion, he must not be opposed to a certain individual; to a minister and party people… stating that, ‘Vidyapith’s representations will be heard only if Mr X is appointed as the Chancellor’… Thus were the terms of the oral bargain outlined to undermine the institution’s autonomy. That was unprecedented in its 102-year history. As a result, an issue as important as the appointment of the Chancellor was rushed through, not by consensus but by a badly fractured vote.”
The statement said, “The real essence lies in the courage to say ‘No, Sir’ in pursuit of truth and non-violence, doing one’s utmost to uphold the value of equal respect to all religions, preservation of democratic values, civil liberties, institutional autonomy and against kowtowing to Government diktats. Gandhi is incomplete without these. We trust that they will atone for the mistake they made whether out of fear, temptation or as a part of a deal.”