The BJP has complained to the Election Commission about the principal of St Xavier’s college in Mumbai, who sent an email to students critiquing Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model of governance and advised them to “choose well!”
Father Frazer Mascarenhas heads one of India’s most prestigious educational institutions. He wrote in his email, “…all the Human Development Index indicators and the cultural polarization of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience in the last 10 years.” The email was also posted on the college’s official website on Tuesday and is still there.
It states, “So what lessons does a reflection on the approaching elections teach us? The prospect of an alliance of a corporate capital and communal forces coming to power constitutes a real threat to the future of our secular democracy.”
Some political parties and members of the academic community say it’s highly inappropriate for an educator to try and influence young voters on who they should select.
“We have no issues about any individual exercising his democratic rights, however, here is someone writing as the head of an educational institution, this is an attempt to influence the mind of students,” said the BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman.
Mumbai votes on Thursday, in the sixth phase of the staggered national election.
In defense, Father Mascarenas said, “It’s a common practice for principals to advice students to go out and vote. While encouraging them to vote, the principal has given them certain criteria that they could consider and make their choice.”
The controversy has set social media abuzz.
“When was the last time people listened to their college principal? I think his sly tactics just made sure Xavier’s will block-vote Modi,” tweeted author Chetan Bhagat.