Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee resigned as chairman of the governing body of a women’s college in his native town of Bolpur on Monday, unable to acquiesce to the authorities’ request to declare 26 failed students as ‘qualified’ to appear for their B.A. examination conducted by Burdwan University.
Ironically, Chatterjee was the prime mover behind the setting up of the college, Purnidevi Chowdhury Mahila Mahavidyalaya, the only women’s college in Birbhum district, which is famous countrywide as the home of Tagore’s Visva-Bharati. The college has no students’ union.
Last week, the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) had allegedly demonstrated at the college, demanding that unsuccessful students be declared ‘passed’.
“Members of the students’ wing of the ruling party put pressure on the college. I couldn’t agree to the decision, since it compromises the quality of education. It also lowers the prestige of the college. I sent my resignation letter today,” Chatterjee said in the evening.
However, the students of the college were merely following a growing trend in Bengal. From December 2012 to March 2013, TMCP members demonstrated and gheraoed dozens of school and college authorities across the state demanding that students who had been blocked from appearing at board and university examinations be allowed to take them.
“We have no connection with the incident. The students brought their relatives and boyfriends to the college and demonstrated,” Satyajit Chatterjee, district president, Birbhum TMCP, told HindustanTimes.
Known to be a stickler for rules, Chatterjee was an unlikely candidate to agree to flunked students being ‘passed’ by the college authorities and act as a rubber stamp.
“We’re yet to get his resignation letter. Once we receive it, we’ll take a decision at a meeting of the governing body,” Sunilbaran Mondal, principal of the college, said, refusing to comment on the decision to send the 26 students for the board examination.