Mumbai BJP leader questions ‘No School No Fee’, sparks off debate

Musab Qazi

Mumbai: A Mumbai-based former office-bearer of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of BJP, in a social media post on Saturday, questioned those demanding that the schools in Maharashtra waive off the fees of their students during the lockdown period for COVID-19 pandemic. The post drew condemnation from leaders of Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and Yuva Sena, youth wings of ruling Congress and Shiv Sena respectively, who accused BJP of doublespeak on the issue of fee payment during the lockdown.

Nikhil Vyas, who was until recently the general secretary of BJYM, and also runs a government-aided school in Kandivali, put up a post on Facebook which said that those posting ‘No School No Fees’ on their Facebook walls should also post ‘No Office No Salaries’! “If you [sic] have a family to run and if you [sic] have salaries despite no office then teaching staff has the same rights! Be Fair!” read the post.

The post was picked up by Suraj Thakur, state vice president of IYC, who shared it on Twitter, while alleging that the BJYM wants to burn a hole in the parents’ pocket by requiring them to pay the fees of their children. “Maha Vikas Aaghadi (MVA) government has notified a Government Resolution (GR) providing concession in school fees. What is BJP doing? This is their real face,” read his tweet.

According to the School Education department’s March 30 circular, private schools in the state cannot compel parents to pay fees during the lockdown. In its GR, issued on May 8, the state government has prohibited the schools from hiking fees in the academic year 2020-21, while directing them to allow parents to pay the fees in monthly or quarterly installments. However, the GR doesn’t provide any direction to provide concession in the fees.

Rahul Kanal, a core committee member of Yuva Sena, also criticized Vyas. “Sad !!! They should feel the pain of a parent and be responsible just being a sour loser… should grow up and stand for humanity !!!” read his tweet.

Thakur sought to highlight the differing positions on the issue within BJP by sharing a post by BJP leader and former school education minister of the state Ashish Shelar in which he had touted his letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari requesting a minimum 10% concession in the fees. “Stop fooling people of the state. For once, stop caring about your businessmen friends and start thinking about the people,” he urged BJP leaders in one of his tweets.

Tajinder Singh Tiwana, BJYM Mumbai President, clarified that the post by Vyas was his ‘personal opinion’, and not party’s stand. “BJP’s stand on the school fees is very much clear. We want schools to charge any fees for the duration they are shut,” he said.

Speaking to MahaScholar.com, Vyas said that the issue has been unnecessarily politicised and blown out of proportion. “I believe that, on the issue of fees, some middle path needs to be found. Schools can provide some concessions to students, as they don’t incur any infrastructure cost during the lockdown period, except for the cost in setting up online classes. They need to declare their annual fees right away, as opposed to asking parents to pay monthly fees without declaring the total fees. The government needs to clarify its position instead of creating an unnecessary rift,” he said.

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