An all-India medical and dental conference to be held at MGR University had to be scrapped owing to the severe backlash it faced on social media once it came to people’s attention that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad was one of the organisers. Terming it an attempt to ‘saffronise medical institutes’, doctors called to boycott the event on social media.
After receiving the invitations, doctors noticed that the ABVP was organising the event along with MGR University and Elayabharatham Seva Trust. The event, according to doctors, was to push for the National Medical Council in the place of the Medical Council of India.
The Directorate of Medical Education has sent a notice to the conference committee patron Dr S Subbaiah. He is the head of the Oncology Department at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital and is also a national president of the ABVP. He had approached MGR University to use the auditorium for the event.
"We immediately began questioning why a government institute was holding an event in partnership with a political outfit. This will affect the secular fabric of the Medical Council of India. Saffronisation of medical education should not be allowed," says Dr Ravindranath, General Secretary, Doctor's Association for Social Equality. "We were going to start a signature campaign against the saffronisation, but the event was called off before that."
MGR University, meanwhile, claims that it did not know that the ABVP was involved in the event.
“We had allowed them to conduct the event at the auditorium because it was a students’ welfare conference. Since a professor asked, we didn't probe the matter too much. We did not know that the ABVP was involved,” says Dr Geethalakshmi, the Director of Medical Education. She further adds that a show-cause notice has been issued to Dr Subbaiah over the matter. This is reportedly because government staff cannot have political affiliation.
Dr Subbiah, who was elected to the post in December 2017, has meanwhile told Times of India that ABVP has no political affiliation. “Our ideologies are the same as the BJP or RSS, but that does not affiliate us with them. Our web page clearly mentions that we are not a political party. I need not have government permission to be a part of students’ association,” he reportedly said.