With Osmania University Not Permitting Rahul Gandhi’s Campus Visit, Political Uproar Ensues

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s planned visit to Osmania University in Hyderabad on May 7 appears to no longer be on the cards, with the varsity administration reportedly refusing to grant approval.

According to the Indian Express, the university has not yet told the organisers about its decision in writing, but Executive Council’s refusal was relayed on Saturday. This created a political controversy, with the Congress party alleging that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led state government had been the one to pressurise the university into not hosting the event.

A group of students also moved the Telangana high court on Saturday, demanding that the university allow the event. However, as Friday was the last day of the court before the summer vacation, they were asked to file a house motion on Monday, Deccan Herald reported.

K. Manavatha Roy, a research scholar at Arts College, OU and chairman of the Telangana Students Unemployed JAC, one of the students who approached the court, also wrote to the registrar seeing permission for Gandhi to meet students in the university’s Tagore Auditorium. The letter stated that the visit was not a political one.

An official from the university told the Indian Express that the Executive Council had banned all non-academic activities, including political activities, since 2017. The first such annual resolution was adopted in June 2017, a year after the high court directed the state government to not allow political and public meetings on campus, the newspaper reported.

Several political groups have been holding protests in the university campus since news of the planned event became public. While NSUI and Youth Congress members have been demanding that the visit be allowed to take place, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and students’ associations affiliated with the TRS organised protests to say Gandhi should not be allowed to visit.

Former Rajya Sabha MP Hanumantha Rao and former MLC Ramulu Naik, as well as other Congress leaders, met the vice-chancellor last Tuesday, seeking his assent to the visit.

Dean of the PG College of Law, G. Vinod Kumar, has been one professor to openly express his support for the visit, Deccan Herald reported. “He is the Congress senior leader and MP. He will talk about what is happening in Telangana and why social justice is being denied. That is an intellectual discourse, so what is wrong if he shares his views?” he said.

In November 2020, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya had been the last politician to be on campus, when he had allegedly trespassed and removed barricades in order to enter the university and hold a meeting.

This article was first published on The Wire.