Screening students, no questions, and lack of media coverage: political gimmicks of CM@Campus
The CM@Campus had been a hopeful venture for the Kerala government, where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan interacted with students from campuses across the state. While the focus of the venture had been an informative debate on the state of higher education in Kerala, however, the event turned into a problematic venture for the CM with students asking him questions regarding the ongoing PSC protests in Kerala.
Following the events of MG University, where Vijayan shouted at a student for asking him a question, the programme has been accused of being a scripted event mainly for the benefit of the state. Under the circumstances, certain events have brought more focus into the CM@Campus programmes.
Firstly, at today’s event at Kannur University, after the welcome speech, Vijayan asked the media to exit the hall. Opposition leaders claim that this is to make sure that an issue similar to what happened in MG University didn’t repeat anywhere else. Moreover, they allege that the Chief Minister is organising such an event at state expense to garner information for the LDF manifesto.
Secondly, and more prominently, reports from various sources indicate that higher government officials instructed campus authorities — especially Calicut University — to tell students to put forward suggestions instead of questions. A leading Malayalam news channel had received a voice note allegedly shared in a WhatsApp group that includes students and professors of the Calicut University. The voice note tells students that they are not to ask questions, instead put forward recommendations regarding higher education and that too in writing. The voice note adds that students are especially discouraged from asking questions regarding the PSC association.
Meanwhile, Muslim Students Federation’s state president PK Navas has alleged that the selection of students to the event is a political affair. In an interview with a leading news media, he said, “A responsible authority selects 200 students for the event, meanwhile, the body comprises of people who have an interest in the left politics. Among the 200 students, only 20 are allowed to ask questions, which have been already pre-approved by the board. Such screening of questions is similar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat.”
The MSF members have been protesting the CM’s event at the Kannur University, and they plan to move their protest to Calicut tomorrow. Meanwhile, reports have been flying around social media claiming that black mask has been banned at the CM’s event and that the police have been providing masks to those seen wearing black colour masks. While these are unconfirmed reports, it has kick-started a social media campaigning where prominent leaders are seen wearing black masks. However, visuals from the event show that students were seen wearing black masks, including some who were at the podium making their recommendations.