LSE/SOAS alumni disassociate from Varun Gandhi’s ‘values’

March 29th, 2009 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) As Varun Gandhi emerged as a poster boy for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with his communal rhetoric, the teachers and alumni of the London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have disassociated themselves from “the values he expressed” in his infamous Pilibhit speeches.
Through an online petition, alumni and staff of these institutions want to ensure that the image of these reputed institutions is not tainted by the hate views of one of its alumnus. The petition (lse-soas.com) has received around 200 signatures till date. It has been circulated among hundreds of members of his two alma mater.

“We, the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), wish to dissociate our institutions from the values recently expressed by the politician Varun Gandhi,” the petition said.

“…Varun Gandhi’s association with these institutions is being used as a testament to his ethics and quality as a politician. His statements are antithetical to the values promoted by our institutions and to our beliefs about responsible leadership in electoral democracy,” the petition further added.

“We emphatically dissociate our institutional values from the ones expressed by Varun Gandhi and condemn his statements,”said Raghu Karnad, a LSE alumnus, who also created a group on social networking site Facebook to get more support in the petition.

“The reason why I feel concerned and angry with (Varun Gandhi’s) statement is due to the fact that he is young and prior to this incident considered to represent youth of India in politics. Thankfully for those of us who thought so, he’s exposed himself to be a true communalist very early in his political career!,” Shantanu Mohan Puri, a member of the alumni group on Facebook, said.

Varun Gandhi studied law and economics at the London School of Economics and then did his masters from the School of Oriental and African Studies in sociology.

The petition site, however, declares that Gandhi was “never a part of LSE’s own undergraduate body” as he earned his degree through the University of London External System, a distance-learning provision without clearing the “highly competitive admissions process”.

The site also said that according to the SOAS Alumni Relations Office, “Varun Gandhi withdrew from his MSc programme at SOAS before graduating.”

Various discussions on the site decried attempts by Gandhi’s supporters to treat his association with these well known institutions as a certificate of his quality as a politician.

“His statements are antithethical to the values promoted by our institutions and to our beliefs about responsible leadership in electoral democracy,” said another LSE alumnus.

Members of the group have expressed hope that the petition statement is made official by the institution’s public relations office and released “particularly to the British and Indian press”.

Gandhi has been sent to the Pilibhit Jail by the court till Monday for allegedly making hate speeches amid clashes between his supporters and the police Saturday. He surrendered after declining to apply for bail when he was charged with causing disaffection between communities.

The Election Commission came down heavily on him and suggested that he should not be fielded as a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP refused to do that and questioned the Election Commission’s jurisdiction to suggest that.

The Election Commission wants criminal charges to be filed against him for his speeches.

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