13/06/2015 4:16 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Give Me A Chance, Says BJP's Gajendra Chauhan As FTII Students Raise Tempo Of Protest Against His Appointment

STRDEL via Getty Images
Indian actor Gajendra Chauhan attends the cremation ceremony of late veteran Bollywood actor A.K. Hangal in Mumbai on August 26, 2012. Bollywood veteran and favourite character actor A.K. Hangal, dubbed the 'grand old man' of Hindi cinema for his elderly roles, died on August 26 aged 95. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/GettyImages)

PUNE — Students of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India stepped up their protests on Saturday against the appointment of television actor Gajendra Chauhan, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, as the new chairman of the FTII governing council by boycotting classes and shutting down administrative offices on the campus.

In tweets posted by various media organisations, the students of FTII were seen raising slogans and holding up posters. A billboard at the gate of the institute urged Chauhan to "resign and leave". Meanwhile Chauhan appealed to the students to judge him based on his work and not by his politicial affiliations.

PTI reported that about 150 students pursuing various courses at the institute went on a flash strike yesterday and said that they would continue their protest. The students body alleged that it was purely out of consideration of his affiliation with BJP that Chauhan was chosen for the key post.

"A person who has an official affiliation with the ruling-BJP and who lacks the vision and stature of the past chairpersons in film-making, has put a question mark on the process of selection for the post earlier held by eminent people like Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalkrishnan," Harikrishnan Nachimuthu, who heads the FTII students' association, told PTI.

Chauhan, who played the role of Yudhishthira in television serial 'Mahabharata', has been a member of the BJP over two decades, the student leaders said.

FTII director D Narayanan told PTI that the institute authorities have opened the channels for dialogue with the students. "We are having a dialogue with the students to find a way out amicably".

A final year student pursuing course in film direction said Chauhan lacked the "experience and stature and quality" of his predecessors to merit his new posting, which is "politically coloured". Meanwhile, the students' association has decided to send their representation on the issue objecting to Chauhan's appointment to Information & Broadcasting ministry.

"We will re-look the current protest only after getting a positive response to our demand by the authorities," Nachiputhu said.

The FTII protests come amidst the criticsm the BJP-ruled central government is facing for reconstituting the Censor Board. Several members of the film certification board have BJP links. Its new chief Pahlaj Nihalani, a film maker, have said he was proud to be a "BJP person" and saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his "action hero".

Nihalani was the brain behind the BJP's campaign video 'Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi' in the run up to the general elections.

This is what Twitter users had to say:

(With inputs from PTI)

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