The newly-elected Delhi University Students’ Union president Ankiv Baisoya said that he had studied “several types of subjects” at Thiruvalluvar University in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore from 2013 to 2016. However, he had trouble recalling the specific subjects included in his Bachelor of Arts programme and also the names of any heads of department.
A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliate, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, 23-year-old Baisoya had obtained admission in Delhi University’s postgraduate Buddhist Studies programme this year by submitting marksheets that are ostensibly from Thiruvalluvar University, a state university. He says that he graduated from there in 2016.
But the Tamil Nadu branch of the Congress Party and its students’ group, the National Students Union of India, had the documents he submitted vetted by the university. Its controller of examinations declared the document a “fake certificate”. On Tuesday, the National Students Union of India circulated images of that letter, the envelope in which it had arrived and a photocopied marksheet.
Baisoya, however, described the documents the rival union was circulating as “a fraud”. He said: “Their attempt to create a controversy over the [electronic voting machines] used in the polls did not work, that is why they are questioning my degree. Whatever these documents are, they can be verified and I will fully cooperate with the process.” NDTV has reported Thiruvalluvar University officials insisted that no one named had Ankiv Baisoya studied there.
“It is incumbent on DU administration to investigate and expel Ankiv Baisoya if certificate [is] fake,” said Ruchi Gupta, a Congress member in charge of the National Students’ Union of India. “Needless to say, he will also no longer remain [Delhi University Students’ Union] president.” Rival students leaders, especially those from the Left, gleefully noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s postgraduate degree in political science from Delhi University also has a question mark dangling over it.
But as in Modi’s case, Delhi University has not addressed the Baisoya issue. “I have had so many calls from the media since morning but none from the university,” the Parishad leader said. “No one from the university has called and said, ‘Your degree is a fake.’”
KTS Sarao, the head of Buddhist Studies, a department singularly rich in student leaders, told The Indian Express: “When there is a complaint raised, that is the time degrees are verified. There is a department in the university which does this. For now, we have not received any complaint.” But on Wednesday morning, the National Students’ Union of India announced it would file a police complaint against Baisoya for alleged forgery and another with the university.
Life in Vellore
There is no trace of Baisoya’s life in Vellore on his Facebook page although it is rich in photographs from campaigns and protests in Delhi University over much the same period – he is either in them or has been tagged on them.
For example, he has been tagged on a photograph posted on Facebook on October 17, 2014, which is clearly of a protest at Delhi University’s Faculty of Arts. The Parishad’s present state secretary, Bharat Khatana posted the photo of another protest on November 12, 2014, and tagged Baisoya on it. Khatana and a noticeably slimmer Baisoya, appear in a third photo, posted six days later, both wearing the Parishad’s name-tags. Photographs from the next two years are more numerous, especially from 2016 when he clearly helped campaign for the Parishad’s candidate for president, Satender Awana, who had also won.
Asked to explain why he appears in campaign material and protest photographs in Delhi but there is none of his life in Vellore, he said: “Mera up-down hota rehta tha” – I kept travelling back and forth between Vellore and Delhi. “In the middle I would go for examinations, some classes or if I had some work but most of the time I was in Delhi only,” he added. He also insisted that he had attended a “regular programme” and not a distance-learning or correspondence one that could have explained his ubiquity in Delhi’s student politics in that period.
About his student life, he appeared to remember nothing. Asked which subjects he studied as part of his arts programme, Baisoya could not name a single one except English: “I wrote several types of exams, in English and skilled-based subject.” Upon being prodded on whether he did history or any other discipline, he said he studied “several types of subjects – skill-based subjects, core, allied”. He could not recall the name of the head of any department.
This vagueness is reflected in at least one marksheet shared by the National Students’ Union of India. It apparently represents his performance in the third semester and in place of subjects, it gives the type of course it was – “core theory”, “allied III” and “skill based subject”. The semester stretched from May 2014 till June 2015, even though it seems improbable that the semester lasted a whole year. In addition, the marksheet was issued before the semester was finished, on December 22, 2014. The document bears the names of Baisoya’s parents. The web address stated is “thiruvalluvaruniversity.ac.in” in place of the actual www.tvu.edu.in. As some reports have noted, there are errors in the Tamil version of the name printed on the certificate.
At the same time, there are hints on Baisoya’s Facebook page of his association with a Delhi college. In September 2014, he was tagged on campaign material but for a candidate contesting in a college election – commerce student Sumit Yadav was contesting the post of president in the students union of the College of Vocational Studies, affiliated to Delhi University. An Ankiv Baisoya appears in tutorial records of the college’s economics department in 2015 and 2016. Then, as recently as on September 10, popular student journal DU Beat profiled each candidate from the Parishad’s panel and described Baisoya as an economics graduate from the College of Vocational Studies.
But the Parishad has defended him, choosing to place the onus of fixing this on Delhi University. “Delhi University gave admission to Ankiv Baisoya after due verification of its documents,” said the institution’s media convenor. “Even today DU has all the right to verify documents of any student enrolled in university. But it is not the job of NSUI to provide certificates to any person.”