The vandalism in the fine arts by the saffron brigade with the help of the police and complicity with the V.C. and the University authority has been nakedly exposed. This act by the saffron brigade is the culmination of the saffronisation of the MSU which had crept the University under the BJP rule in the state for more than one decade and the process accelerated after the Gujarat Carnage 2002.There are more than -nine Universities in the state besides the professional Universities.

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How ever the teachers as well as the students of MSU are resisting the saffronisation facing all odds. The saffron brigade is out to destroy the power of resistance of the students and teachers and trample the autonomy of the MSU and there by pave the path for the absolute control of the university by the saffron brigade.

It is needless to mention that the autonomy of the universities is trampled systematically following the policy of National Policy of Education and the directives of GAT and WTO. Be it the Congress Government or the left Government led by CPM or any other regional parties, all the ruling parties are taking away the autonomy of the Universities. The previous NDA and the BJP Government are no exception in this respect All the ruling parties have put their person of choice as the VC along with the syndicate and senate members. The appointments are made on the criteria of their loyalty to their parties who can toe their line and policy. The ruling Congress Govt. in the country has nakedly practiced this undemocratic exercise since independence, which created a bad precedent in the country and later followed by other ruling parties. The Syllabus is framed to shun the rational and scientific outlook. In a nutshell the democratization of the education has been thrown to the abyss. The BJP when came to power is too toeing the same line more aggressively. The Sangha Parivar in it’s bid to pursue the Hindutva ideology, . is going for all out saffronisation destroying the very fabric of democratic, secular and scientific education, where ever they are incontrol of Govt.

The development of the shameful incident in Fine Arts of MSU was too fast to comprehend. The way the faculty of fine arts invaded by the saffron brigade led by Niraj Jain with police and Chandramohan was ,beaten,arrested and send to the jail for five days followed by the suspension of Prof. Shivji Panniker, all these could not have happened without a meticulously planned strategy, which could have been built up long back. The opportune time of examination was chosen to rouse the sentiments to hook the Fine Arts, which is ire to the MSU authority because it did not comply with the VC Dr. Manoj Soni. Prior to the episode of Fine Arts a security guard at the instance of the warden of M.A. hall beat a student from fine arts faculty. This action was strongly protested by the entire faculty of the fine arts including the teaching staff. The tussle between the fine arts faculty particularly Prof Panikkar (who all along behind the students) and the MSU authority was fuming. So the attitude of the MSU authority was to teach them a lesson.

The worried UGC asked an explanation about the vandalism from the MSU authority. The VC has sent a seven-page reply justifying the vandalism by Niraj Jain. The VC had also shown the scant respect to the worried Chancellor of the University Ms. Mrinalini Devi Power.

Now it is clear that Niraj Jain acted on behalf of the VC. No FIR was launched against him. Rather Niraj Jain could boastingly declare in the VC office in presence of the delegation of the Fine Arts led by Prof. Panikkar” dare to file FIR against me”.

Not surprisingly the VC Dr. Manoj Soni got the pat of the Education Minister of the state Ms. Anandini Patel after the episode in Fine Arts.

The autonomy of the MSU is in danger The VC Dr. Manoj Soni is out to saffronise it. The Saffron brigade wants to generate a controversy on the question of art so that the issue of autonomy is side tracked and side by side the religious passion of the people roused to reap benefit from the ensuing assembly election in the state. So, all the effort must be concentrated to save the total unity of the students and teachers and citizens to on save the autonomy of the MSU. The Saffron brigade and the ABVP are out to confuse and divide the students. NSUI too is not lagging behind.

Freedom of Arts – literature is very vital for a healthy society. There may be divergent views on this sensitive issue. Accredited artist of high caliber, high taste and culture can understand the finer aesthetics of arts. What is beauty or what is pornography cannot be understood by either by police, judiciary or bureaucracy. The way the exhibition displayed by the students meant for the academic evaluation of the annual examination ransacked by the saffron brigade with the help of the police armed with the magistrate order, under the nose of the VC and the administrative authority is untninkable. Right thinking persons were appalled by this fascist like act and came out in openly to protest and expressed solidarity with MSU Fine Arts is a unique event.

This arrogant step of M.S.U. Authority in connivance with BJP-RSS has not occurred all of a sudden, it has been developing since about last ten years.

Let us look up the matter and genesis of how BJP-RSS is trying to control M.S.U


Maharaja Sayaji Rao University of Baroda is the only English medium University of Gujarat, which attracts students and teachers across length and breadth of the country. Maharaja Sayaji Rao, the erstwhile ruler of Baroda, had started Baroda College in 1890’s. Because of his endeavor, Aurobindo Ghosh, the known revolutionary of his age, had become the Vice-Principal of the Baroda College. In pre-independence India, Baroda became the important center of learning after Bombay in the educational map of western India. After independence, with the University Act of 1949, this Baroda College became the full-fledged University. One of its founder Syndicate member, the great philosopher, S. Radhakrishnan, drafted an act of the university on the basis of academic freedom and autonomy from state control. This is the only university in Gujarat, where the Governor is not the Chancellor but from the royal family of Gaekwad. At present, M.S.U. have about 35 thousand students across 13 faculties, with about 1500 teaching staff. Many of its faculties are known worldwide



The 2002 Gujarat Carnage left a deep scar on the wall of the university. Penetration of RSS influence among teachers and staff in education institutes was much before the BJP came to power in 1995. In 2002 carnage also, many senate and syndicate members of university were justifying the attacks on minorities. A senior professor and known social activist, Prof. J.S. Bandukwalla’s house was attacked and burnt. He had to flee out of country. Many teachers felt that university should come out in support of the professor and condemn the attack. The conspiracy of silence crept MSU authority.

After 2002 carnage, MSU was totally under control by BJP/RSS. University Syndicate is the highest decision body, which formulates rules and regulation in university was totally controlled by Sangh Parivar in 2003.It was first time in the history of MSU where there was no voice of dissent in MSU syndicate meeting. Many non-academics, persons of low caliber were made senate members by Gujarat government. Virtually 2003-04 was death knell for MSU as various anti- students, anti-education measures were taken by MSU authority

One has to step into the shoes of the ideological line of the ruling BJP Government and RSS to reach the ladder of higher position. After 2002 carnage most of the VCs appointed in various Universities of Gujarat due to their allegiance to the ruling party. The present VC Dr. Soni became the VC because he praised Narendra Modi and eulogized the Carnage. The University magazine of the Arts Faculty was not allowed to publish a resolution condemning the Carnage2002.and there was no official condemnation on the attack of Dr. Bandukwalla during the carnage.

The free atmosphere of debate and discussions are vandalized since long by the saffron brigade. ABVP activist destroyed the placards against the US invasion over Iraq of the All India D.S.O. In September 2002, RSS syndicate members and ABVP activist stalled a seminar organized by Dept. of History along with UGC where Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer was the main speaker. In 2003, All India Democratic Students Organization was denied permission for organizing a cultural festival in Arts faculty hall where even outside Organisation including religious organizations holds programme. After successful hostel and Common University Act movement All India DSO was denied to hold any debates, discussion in faculties. These both movements saw a rise of democratic mass movement in MSU. Similar incidents can be cited in numbers.

In June 2004, when students were leaving after completion of exams, M.S.U. Syndicate decided to close down two boys’ hostels viz. Lal Bahadur Shashtri (L.B.S.) Hall and Manubhai Mehta (M.M.) Hall and also introduced some major changes in the hostel administration like centralization of power in hands of Chief Warden etc. M.S.U. being residential university has 12 boys’ hostel and 4 girls’ hostel, which are very less, compared to the strength of the students. These hostels can accommodate only 3500 students.

All India D.S.O. launched movement against the closer of two hostels and various agitation programmes were taken. A Hostel Students’ Struggle Committee was formed. Ultimately, University Authority had to bow down as students’ Gheraoed Vice-Chancellor for about 8 hours on 15th August 2004. This was for the first time that BJP-RSS Syndicate bowed down before democratic movement.

Dr. Manoj Soni, the present Vice-Chancellor of M.S.U. was a student of Political Science from M.S.U. Before becoming Vice-Chancellor, he was a reader in Political Science Department at Sardar Patel University, Anand. On 17th April 2005 Dr. Manoj Soni took over the charge of V.C. What surprised many was his inexperience of managing such prestigious University. Ironically, he has even applied for the post of reader in Political Science Department in M.S.U. His proximity with Narendra Modi was one of the factors for becoming V.C. Many believe he was the brain behind the drafting of Common University Act. He is the youngest V.C. of M.S.U., which BJP-RSS lobby tried to compare with Shyamaprasad Mukherjee and Aurobindo Ghosh. But those who oppose Common University Act viewed him as a man specially brought by Modi Government to create a ground for Common University Act.

On taking over as Vice-Chancellor on 17th April 2005, Manoj Soni created an image as University Student has come back home. He created a popular halo around him. He would go alone in any Department or Hostel mess, dining with students. In June 2005, Baroda witnessed worst kind of floods. V.C. would move around in University in Bicycle created an image of Popular V.C. But he could not keep up his image for long. The Arts faculty century old dome was renovated. University authority invited the C.M. Mr. Narendar Modi and education minister Ms. Anandiben Patel for the inaugurational ceremony. On 17th July 2005, this rededication ceremony was disrupted by flood-affected peoples led by congress, as news of CM coming for programme flashed in the local media. But both CM and Education minister did not come. Next day VC Monaj Soni sat on hunger strike with battery of BJP/RSS leaders, paving the way for political interference in University affairs. What came, as shock to many in MSU was the way some agitating students were lathi-charged before VC and instead of intervening he said, “ they were shouting for justice, and justice is given to them.�

The Common University Act(CUA) could not be implemented due to successful teachers- students united movement but the VC Dr. Soni is alwayas trying to apply the spirit of UCA directly and indirectly, like victimizing the students,punish the members of the teaching faculties,interfering in the day to day academic affairs of the academics functioning of the faculties and there by trample the academic freedom and autonomy and run the University under the thumb of the administration directed by the Govt. from Gandhinagar.This very aspect is totally reflected in his cladenstine involve ment in the worst kind of episode in the Fine Arts.

Students’ community had played important role in various movements to safeguard University autonomy and conducted movement against anti-education polices of university authority and state government. To gag this rising students voice, MSU authority banned students’ election in 2005-06. Students Action com mittee was formed and movement was launched against this step. which was held after one year in 2006 with very little scope of democratic space in the elction. .

During this same year anti-student posture of VC was witnessed during the agitation of MA Hindi admission problem. Some girls’ students lied down outside VC office in during the agitation. VC Monaj Soni instead of hearing their plea simply walked over the agitating girls students. This movement was victorious but the arrogance of VC shocked everyone in Baroda.

A BJP cell of the teachers was formed to contest the Senate and syndicate body. As said earlier the University teachers are lured to be promoted to the level of VC in other Universities and Dean of faculties, rectors of the hostels if they toe the line of the saffron brigade.

The hostels wardens were selected on their pro RSS leanings. The sakhas are allowed to run inside the campus.

Same goes with the recently appointed of teachers. In 2006 the selection committee appointed by VC suggested Prof. Surekha Devi, head of Chemistry dept. as dean of Science Faculty. As a procedure university syndicate has to approve the decision of selection committee, but they rejected the decision without giving any reason. A lady teacher of Home science faculty was not promoted because of bias attitude. She field a case in Gujarat High court stating that herself being a Hindu and marrying a Muslim is the reason behind the bias in part of the University. Prof Bharat Mehta the reader of the dept. of Gujarati literature was not promoted in the career advancement promotion to post of Professor because of his secular credential and involvement in save education movement.

The atmosphere is so created that any opposition to saffron brigade may land you in trouble as an impression is created that whole city is under the control of the BJP. Dare not to oppose. It is obvious that with out the approval from the Gandhinager the VC cannot act in such an authoritarian way. As the election is around the corner it is trying to create an impression of strong Hindutva in the society.



In spit of all out effort of saffronisation the attempt has been foiled time and again. A BJP cell of M.S.University teachers’ panel in the election of the Syndicate and senate in the university was formed before the last senate election held in dec.2006 –feb.2007 resulted into a setback to Sangh Parivar, as about 15-16 members were defeated. Three sitting syndicate members were also defeated. This was the result of direct interference of state government in university affairs. Dr I.I. Pandya, president of BUTA (Baroda University Teachers Association.) a critic of state government and university has been elected, as syndicate member. This is a silver lining in this dark cloud. Another landmark was successful students strike on 14th December. 2006. Students and teachers whole-heartedly supported the all India strike called against WTO – GATS and make it a historic success. All India DSO called this student’s strike.

University teachers under the Baroda University Teachers Association is doing it’s best to resist all undemocratic measures of the University Authority. Prof. I.I Pandya is very active and has invited all kinds of displeasure from Dr. Soni. The BUTA has been rightly and effectively voiced against the suspension of Prof. Paniker

Under these circumstances the All India D.S.O has been working very hard to fight against the University authority and save the autonomy of the University. It works with the BUTA, All India Save Education Committee to fight for the common cause. All India DSO spearheaded a historic hostel movement last 2004 may to August for three long months. This successful movement created a ground to fight against the Common University Act with BUTA and All India Save Education Committee. The citizens of Baroda and the state have too always sided with the cause.

After the Fine Arts incident took place, All India DSO was first to submit the memorandum to the VC on 10th May and sent the same to the Governor of Gujarat Ministry of HRD and UGC. And demanded the revoking the suspension order on Prof. Panikkar and withdraw cases against Chandramohan and file FIR against Niraj Jain

It also took up the cause of the beaten students by the warden and staged demonstration along with the students of Fine Arts. All India DSO is tying it best facing all odds against the saffronisation in the

APPEAL-Under this circumstance unity of the students and the teachers are of paramount important to preserve the autonomy and democratic functioning of the University. The Saffron brigade will make all kinds of mischievous methods to divide and confuse the students on the issue of Fine Arts, which has to be foiled at any cost.It is the call of the hour for all democratic minded people to come forward to stall the saffronisation of the education and at the same time fight for the preserving the autonomy of the Universities

Written by-

Mukesh Semwal, Research scholar in Political Science Dept. MSU

President- All India D.S.O. MSU Date-21-5-07