Mumbai: The BJP Wednesday complained to the Election Commission against a college principal for sending an email to students allegedly criticising the Gujarat model of development and advising them to “choose well”.
The complaint has named Frazer Mascarenhas who heads south Mumbai’s elite St. Xavier’s College.
“We have lodged a complaint with the EC against the said person on advocating and attempting to influence citizens — in this case young voters against our government in Gujarat and the prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi,” BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
In his email posted on the college’s official website Tuesday, Fr. Mascarenhas wrote: “…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.”
“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,” said the email, loaded with broad hints, on the eve of the elections to 19 Maharashtra constituencies, including six in Mumbai, scheduled Thursday.
Shelar, however, claimed the party has no objection to individual voters exercising their democratic rights.
“But, Mascarenhas is heading an educational institution… This was a sheer attempt to influence the mind of young students, against the BJP,” he contended.
Denying the allegations, Mascarenhas pointed out that it’s a common practice for college principal to advise students to exercise their franchise.
“While encouraging them to vote, the principal has given them certain broad criteria that they could consider and make their choice,” he said referring to his email.
The email has also mentioned issues like the Congress’ food security and employment schemes and said that some of India’s “best social scientists like Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have supported these as necessary in the emergency economic situation the country and the world are facing”.