Yoga guru Baba Ramdev today indicated that he would skip his visit to Jawaharlal Nehru University where he was invited to deliver a keynote address even as the varsity rejected demand of a student group to withdraw the invitation. While the protesting students termed the move to be a "silent right-wing onslaught" on JNU, the invitation to Ramdev for the address on December 30, also drew criticism from leaders of various political parties.
"Me or my office has not confirmed for any talk or event at JNU. I would have surely gone to JNU if time allowed to have candid, scientific & logical discussion, even with my ideological adversaries. I will love to talk to students & faculty at JNU, whenever its possible in near future," he said in a series of tweets.
While the varsity administration maintained that it has not heard of any denial or acceptance of the invitation from Ramdev, it clarified that it stands by the invitation. "The invitation to Ramdev was extended due to the quality work he has done in the field of Yoga. The administration has no agenda to support any political affiliations. Students have a right to register their protest but we stand by the invite extended to him," said JNU Professor G N Jha, member of the organising committee.
Stating that it does not befit the stature of an academic institution like JNU to have persons with such a questionable background to address an academic gathering, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) had yesterday demanded that the varsity withdraws the invitation to the yoga guru to attend the '22nd International Congress of Vedanta' or face protests. MORE
Supporting their views, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "Baba Ramdev is a controversial personality and a businessman. Many questions have been raised in past about his and his organisation's activities".
"The government gives a kind of preference to Ramdev be it in Railways, Army or even Parliament where patanjali biscuits are sold. The question is whether this kind of prominence is appropriate?," he asked.
JDU leader KC Tyagi asserted, "JNU is a prominent institution not just in India but also at a global level. It is a centre of knowledge and it has no space for people like Ramdev".
Congress leader Raj Babbar said that the students' view should be respected.
"It is a matter pertaining to JNU. In such issues, the stand or the decision taken by the students or the students union should be respected," he said.
The three-day convention-- organised by the university's Special Center for Sanskrit Studies in collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA and the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth -- began here on December 27. Ramdev has been invited to deliver the key-note address on December 30.
Amid the raging saffronisation debate in education, JNU's Academic Council (AC) had last month rejected a proposal mooted by varsity administration for introduction of short-term courses in "Indian Culture" and "Yoga" for propagating spiritual and mythological traditions and establishing Indian values in the world.