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‘Manipulated video with political motivations’: Mumbai’s Thakur College slams Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi for claiming forced attendance at ‘minister’s son’s session’

The college has made it clear that it was an awareness program for voting where Dhruv Goyal was speaking, and students were not specifically forced to attend his speech.

The management of Kandivali’s Thakur College in Mumbai on Saturday rebuked Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi for “disseminating manipulated video” from an event on 22nd March featuring Dhruv Goyal, who is the son of Union Minister Piyush Goyal, and giving it a political colour. Sharing a short video from the event, the politician had alleged that the students were forced to attend the event, and their IDs confiscated to ensure that they are compulsorily present during Dhruv Goyal’s speech. However, the college has denied these allegations.

The lawmaker has drawn flak from the institution for bringing needless strife into their campus community and dragging the student into an unwarranted controversy as well as casting a negative light on the successful program.

An official press release from the institution stated, “Thakur College recently hosted an event aimed at encouraging our students, particularly first-time voters, to actively participate in the upcoming general elections. As part of this initiative. We were honoured to welcome Mr Dhruv Goyal for a meaningful dialogue with these first-time voters.”

It further noted, “We have been made aware of a situation involving Ms Priyanka Chaturvedi, who has disseminated a manipulated video pertaining to this interaction, seemingly with political motivations. This has led to an unwarranted controversy, overshadowing what was an otherwise successful and well-received event. The engagement and dialogue with Mr Dhruv Goyal were positively received by our students, and it is regrettable that Ms Chaturvedi’s actions have introduced unnecessary discord into our college environment, unfairly involving our students in a dispute that was uncalled for.”

The letter added, “Furthermore, we wish to clarify that during the post-event interaction, a query was raised by a student on a topic that Mr. Dhruv Goyal was not previously acquainted with. This matter is currently under review by our institution. It is our belief that educational settings should remain apolitical, focused on the enrichment and empowerment of our students rather than becoming arenas for political contention.” It was signed by the college’s principal CT Chakraborty.

Earlier on 23 March, Priyanka Chaturvedi shared a clip on social media and wrote, “Students of Thakur College in Mumbai were forced to attend Dhruv Goyal, son of Union Minister Piyush Goyal session. The students say their IDs were confiscated to ensure that they are compulsorily present when he speaks. What a shame!”

In the video, a student can be heard asking, “Sir, first of all, all the best to you for the upcoming election. Sir my question was do you think this system is democratic enough where the Thakur College administration has confiscated the IDs of students and made them visit here compulsorily,” amidst loud cheer and clapping. He added, “If this system exists and they can abuse us, then anyone can abuse us on national and international level.

The principal of the college, Chaitaly Chakraborty, mentioned that she knew students had their exams on 23rd March but urged them to cast their vote and hear the speaker. She introduced Dhruv Goyal who stated in the 1:16 minute footage, “Your first vote will be a vote that will be truly yours. Don’t let your parents, don’t let your siblings influence you. That vote is your vote and should come from your heart. No one is taking that away from you. I have not come here today to tell you to vote for a party X or Y. Obviously I have my biases”. The program was held on the seventh floor of the building.

The college has made it clear that it was an awareness program for voting where Dhruv Goyal was speaking, and students were not specifically forced to attend his speech.

Notably, the program was held to urge the students to cast their votes in the upcoming elections. Colleges all around the city are launching awareness campaigns to encourage students to participate more in the election processes, as per an order from the University Grants Commission. The ‘Mera Pehla Vote Desh Ke Liye’ (My first vote for my country) campaign has been requested to be initiated by colleges.

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