The vice chancellor of Banaras Hindu University has said that reports of him attending a Narendra Modi roadshow in Varanasi were “malicious attempts to defame” him. “I was watching the whole proceedings on television from my office that day... I am ready for any punishment if these allegations are proven true,” GC Tripathi told CNN-News18 in an interview on Monday.

Tripathi was drawn into a controversy on Saturday after senior television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai claimed that he participated in Modi’s campaign roadshow ahead of the Assembly election in Varanasi. Sardesai later clarified that it was a case of mistaken identity and apologised. “The pics of BHU VC at Modi roadshow have turned out to be case of ‘mistaken identity’. Apologising to him and withdrawing tweet,” said Sardesai.

However, Tripathi threatened to beat up Sardesai. “If he [Sardesai] comes to the campus again he will be thrashed properly. They will be systematically beaten up. I will not allow anyone to spread lies about me or the institution,” Tripathi added.

Tripathi has faced criticism and has been accused of being a supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. After being appointed the vice chancellor of BHU in November 2014, there have been allegations that Tripathi has tried to “saffronise” the campus. In his interview, Tripathi said he was proud to be an RSS man, but denied that he was promoting the group’s ideals at the university. “If saffronisation stands for knowledge, sacrifice, energy, light, then of course BHU should be saffronised,” he told CNN-News18.

Regarding recent violence on the campus, the vice chancellor said discussion must be encouraged. However, he added that controversial topics like Kashmir and Bastar would be discussed “among ourselves, no outsider will be allowed to discuss it in our university”.

When asked if BHU would invite Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid for a talk, Tripathi said his presence would make the campus “volatile”. “First let him [Khalid] tell us exactly what he’ll speak, then we’ll take a call. I’m not against rationality or thought,” he added.