Bharatiya Janata Party MP Satish Gautam has taken offence to a decades-old portrait of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah inside the Aligarh Muslim University Student Union Office. Gautam wrote to university Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Monday seeking an explanation, PTI reported.

“It is fine if Jinnah has been revered in Pakistan after Partition. But his portrait should not be put up here in India,” the Aligarh MP wrote, according to News18. “The university should instead celebrate the contributions of Raja Mahendra Pratap and Sir Syyed Ahmed who played a crucial role in establishing the university.”

Defending the portrait, the university’s spokesperson, Shafey Kidwai, on Tuesday said it has been up inside the office for several decades as Jinnah was a founder member of the University Court and had been granted life membership of the student union.

“Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union,” Kidwai told PTI. “He was the founder member of the University Court in 1920 and also a donor.” Kidwai added that Jinnah was granted the life membership in 1938, much before the Muslim League raised the demand for Pakistan.

National leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, C Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru did not object to the portrait even after Indian independence, Kidwai said.

“It is a tradition since 1920 to honour people of eminence with life membership,” Aligarh Muslim University’s Public Relations Officer Omar Peerzada told News18. “AMU first conferred it on Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and on Jinnah in 1938. It is part of history… it does not mean we are part of them or their politics. CV Raman and VV Giri were also honoured with the same.”