Dispute over old social media posts of new JNU VC

The appointment of Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit as first lady vice-chancellor of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by the Ministry of Education on Monday sparked controversy over her former social media posts, some opposition leaders and other stakeholders critical of this decision.

“President Ram Nath Kovind, who is visiting the university, has approved the appointment of Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit as Vice Chancellor of JNU. His appointment is for a period of five years,” a senior Ministry of Education official said.

Jagadesh Kumar, who served as interim VC at JNU after his five-year term ended last year, was named UGC president last week.

Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit is an alumnus of JNU where she pursued her MPhil as well as a PhD in International Relations. Pandit started her teaching career at University of Goa in 1988 and moved to University of Pune in 1993. She has held administrative positions in various academic bodies. She has also been a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and Nominated by Visitors of Central Universities.

Social media has surfaced with old Twitter posts from Pandits, which include his criticism of protesting farmers, Christianity, Nathuram Godse, posts on account as “Dr. Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit ‘calls protesting farmers’ parasites”; retweeted a tweet claiming that MK Gandhi’s last words being “He Ram!” is a “myth”; and described anti-BJP students and teachers, at the university that Pandit was chosen to lead, as “losers at JNU”, various handles said on twitter.

Santishree Pandit has also reportedly called for a ban on funding for Jamia Millia Islamia and St Stephens Universities as students protest against the unconstitutional Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Saket Gokhale, national spokesperson for the All India Trinamool Congress, shared a tweet from the Vice Chancellor last year in which she called Indian Christians “converted to sacks of rice”.

“JNU’s new Vice-Chancellor calls Christians ‘converts to sacks of rice’. She will now lead one of India’s elite liberal arts universities. Education Min should clarify if this is how the JNU Christian students are going to be treated and if it’s Indian government policy,” Gokhale wrote on Twitter.

CPI leader Kavita Krishnan also shared tweets in which Pandit called student unions “Naxal extremist groups” and “losers of JNU”.

“The Modi regime’s new JNU VC has a Twitter feed full of unbalanced Hindu-supremacist bile against educational institutions founded by Muslims or Christians, and against Indian farmers, and it’s full of #Covidconspiracy theories. She hates actively JNU,” Krishnan tweeted.

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