New Delhi: The government yesterday refused to yield to the demand of agitating students and alumni members of FTII-Pune for reconsidering the appointment of TV actor and BJP's Gajendra Chauhan as the head of the institute but gave number of assurances including non-interference in the functioning of the prestigious establishment.
During an hour-long meeting, I&B Minister Arun Jaitley, who met the students and alumni members including Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty and filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli of FTII-Pune, also asked them to "get back to class" and allow normal functioning of the institute.
"While the minister made it clear that there will be no rethink over the appointment of the institute head, he assured the students and alumni members that government had no intention to interfere in the working of the institute. He also assured them of all technological support to make it a national centre of excellence," an official source said.
After the meeting, Pookutty said, "While many assurances were given but the core issue for which the students were protesting has not been resolved satisfactorily." However, he did not specify that whether they will continue with the agitation. "We will go back to the students to decide future course of action," he said when asked whether they will continue their protest over the appointment of Chauhan.
Chauhan, who played Yudhisthira in TV serial 'Mahabharat', was appointed on June 9 as Chairman of the governing council of FTII-Pune and President of FTII Society by the I&B ministry. The decision triggered protests among the students there as they called for a person of a higher stature to head the institution. Similar sentiments were also expressed by some of the alumni of the institution.
Pookutty also added that a five point agenda which included setting up of an interim committee had been suggested by them. The minister had said that these demands would be considered, he added.
"There are concerns of students conducting within and outside the campus, the other one was future of the institution and of course constitution of the present society is quite skewed because five members are just from acting field, the whole diversity has not met in constituting the society, that was another aspect," Pookutty said.
Earlier before meeting Jaitley, the delegation of FTII students and alumni had held an over two hour long meeting at the National Media Centre here with ministry officials including Joint Secretary (Films) K Sanjay Murthy. Sources said that while the ministry officials heard the concerns of the delegation, the meeting had remained inconclusive.
Agitating students of FTII also took their protest to the heart of the national capital as they held a demonstration seeking immediate revocation of Chauhan's appointment. The students staged their protest outside Shastri Bhavan, which houses the Information and Broadcasting Ministry office. Students from Jawahar Lal University (JNU) and other professional institutes too joined the protests with FTII students in the capital this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Chauhan said that discussion was the only solution to the problem. "They had certain demands and they wanted to talk to the officials. I have been saying that protest is not the solution to the problem. It's good that they sat together. Let the minister take the final call," he told PTI.
The actor said he was sad about the controversy as he did not even get a chance to perform. "Questions were raised about my credentials and stature without giving me a chance to perform. I was given a responsibility but I am being prevented from fulfilling it," Chauhan said.
He, however, is confident that he will prove to be a capable chairman if he gets a chance. "If I continue, I am confident that I will win their (students) trust but I need to get a chance. Judge me for my work. I know I am capable of holding this position. Let us see what future holds."