New Delhi: BJP leader Ram Naik has questioned government`s claim of setting up India`s first all-women university at Rae Bareli saying it has for electoral gains forgotten that Pune`s SNDT University set up in 1916 was the first such institution.
"Does the Central Cabinet wish the country to forget the glorious educational history of the nearly century-old SNDT University, the country`s first women`s university, established by Bharat Ratna Keshav Dhondo Karve," Naik said in a statement.
The Union Cabinet had on July 11 approved setting up of the Indira Gandhi National University for Women at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. "This will be the first university of the country to be established exclusively for women," an official statement issued after the Cabinet approval had said.
Naik, who was Petroleum Minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee during 1999 and 2004, said in 1916 the first women`s university titled `The Indian Women`s University` was established by Karve in Pune.
Thereafter in 1951, its name was change to Smt Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) University. In 1939 Mahatma Gandhi presided over its annual convocation while in 1941 S Radhakrishnan presided over the silver jubilee function, he said adding Prime Minister Indira Gandhi presided over the golden jubilee function in 1966.
"Is it not shocking that the former Chairman of University Grants Commission and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has forgotten it," Naik asked.
He further questioned role of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in the Cabinet meeting that approved setting up of the university at Raebareli asking if the Maratha leaders had "forgotten Maharashtra`s glorious history in Delhi`s political environment."
"The SNDT University not only laid the foundation of the women`s education but successfully began the era of women`s empowerment. I strongly condemn this `loss of memory` by the Cabinet," Naik added.
The BJP leader suggested that since there were many projected named after Indira Gandhi, the proposed university should be named after Savitribai Phule, Bhagini Nivedita, Anandi Joshi or Ramabai Ranade who had contributed for women`s education and their empowerment.