Amid controversy, PM unveils Vivekananda statue at JNU

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the ideology of a person should be in sync with the interest of the country and not against it. “Putting ideology before nationalism has done a lot of harm to the country,” he said, unveiling a life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda at the campus of the Left-dominated JNU amid protests by students’ union.

Saffron takeover?

  • An RTI filed in February 2019 by then JNUSU president N Sai Balaji stated the university did not have the permission from the Environment Ministry to axe trees or break rocks at the proposed site
  • Later in November, objectionable messages, mostly directed towards right-wing outfits, were found written on the pedestal of a yet-to-be unveiled statue

The statue has been a cause of contention for a while amid allegations of a “saffron takeover” of the campus.

The Prime Minister, in his first address at the university which has been home to several ideological controversies and clashes, told students that using one’s own ideology into matters related to the country was not right. “On subjects of national interest, our ideology should be with the country and not against it. People of different ideologies came together during our freedom struggle to fight as one. I was part of the movement against the Emergency. Several former leaders of the Congress, RSS volunteers, and socialist and communist leaders came together back then, but no one had to compromise on ideology. There was only one purpose — national interest. Therefore, whenever there is a question of national unity, integrity and national interest, taking decisions under the influence of any ideology will lead to loss for the nation,” he said.

While students questioned the source of funding of the statue, pointing to lack of infrastructure and funds for academic works and research, BJP leaders said it was “not about funds but ideology”. “They are okay with the statue of Nehru but have a problem with the statue of Swami Vivekananda,” said BJP leaders. Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said the statue had been installed with the support of the alumni.

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