Even as Mumbai goes to the polls today, one of the city’s most illustrious academic institutions, St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao Mumbai, has become the centre of a raging controversy. The principal Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, in an email from his official email ID to college students criticised the Gujarat model stating that human development index indicators and the cultural polarisation of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience in the last 10 years. It is a detailed communication going on about how Gujarat has been the worst performer in settling claims and distributing title deeds to tribals. The letter has also been put up on the college’s official website.

It is shocking that a principal of an educational institution has sought to influence students by posting a political letter on the website and sending it from his official ID. If he had sent it in personal capacity, that would be a different matter altogether. He has sought to influence his students whatever his defence not only to go and vote as he claims, but also vote anti-Modi by slamming the Gujarat model.

Fr Frazer has brought a political colour to an institution which has been seen as apolitical. While Fr Frazer has defended himself vigorously stating that he was merely telling his students to go and make informed choices while voting, it is evident there is a distinct slant to Fr Frazer’s advisory. It is coloured and it does to a large extent support the Congress-led UPA, whatever Fr Frazer’s protestations to the contrary.

Even after being called out by several people over this official communication, Fr Frazer claimed he was not trying to influence his young students against a party, many of whom may be first-time voters. He harps on what he called an effort for them to choose wisely. Yet, many parents too are shocked and upset, and with good reason too. Though Fr Frazer is simply waffling now, you don’t need to be a genius to discern that his advisory is anti-Modi and BJP. People can and do read between the lines.