Two days after senior Mumbai University (MU) faculty member Yogesh Soman was sent on a forced leave after he posted a video criticising Rahul Gandhi, a Maharashtra Congress leader on Wednesday said the action should not be construed as "intolerance".
The party spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the action was aimed at "cleansing the education system". MU general secretary had issued a letter at 11.30 pm on Monday stating that Soman was being sent on forced leave, a Chhatra Bharti functionary had said on Tuesday.
Soman, Director of the department of Academy of Theatre Arts, had posted a video criticising Rahul Gandhi over his remarks "I am Rahul Gandhi and not Rahul Savarkar" which the latter had made at a public meeting in Delhi. Students of Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) and other bodies had demanded action against Soman and also held a sit-in protest at the Kalina campus of the MU.
Reacting to the development, a senior BJP leader had reportedly questionned whether the action against Soman was not intolerance. Sawant said the BJP had held the entire education system to "ransom" during its tenure in Maharashtra.
"Several inefficient persons with RSS ideology and background were holding different posts in the education system. Action against Soman was not intolerance but cleansing the education system of such elements," he said.
He said Soman "not only lacks teaching experience but also doesn't possess any degree in theatre". "Soman used his position to propagate the ideology of the RSS and the BJP among students. His political comments are testimony to this," he said.
Citing service rules, Sawant said the action against Soman was justified. "Rules state that those appointed on government post should not voice their personal political views and should not be affiliated to any political party.
"Soman made the video attacking Rahul Gandhi because he had the backing of the BJP government," he said.
MU Vice Chancellor Ajay Deshmukh had told students that a fact-finding committee will be set up in the matter.