Bengal Guv reaches Calcutta University to attend convocation, forced back
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was not allowed to attend the convocation of Calcutta University (CU) and had to leave the venue amid protests by a section of students in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Students shouted ‘Go Back’ slogans and showed him black flags as soon as Dhankhar approached Nazrul Mancha auditorium in south Kolkata, where the convocation was held. The students did not allow him to reach the dais.
The state education minister Partha Chatterjee did not attend the convocation, even though CU officials claimed that invitations had been sent to him and chief minister Mamata Banerjee as well.
On December 24, 2019, a protest by students forced Dhankhar to leave the Jadavpur University (JU) campus where he had gone to preside over the annual convocation. The governor is the chancellor of all state-run universities.
Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee was conferred an honorary D.Litt at the convocation ceremony. Since the governor had not yet signed the D.Litt certificate to be handed over to Banerjee, students allowed the governor to reach the ‘green room’ of the auditorium. Dhankhar signed the certificate in the green room, sitting next to Banerjee, and then moved out because the students had vowed not to allow him on the dais.
Later, in a string of tweets he expressed concern over the behaviour meted out to him.
“The uppermost thought in mind while leaving Calcutta University without attending the Convocation is to ensure there is no compromise of the immense respect we have for Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee on whom we are conferring honorary D Litt (honoris causa),” he wrote in a tweet.
“VC sought permission from as Chancellor to proceed with the Convocation. In view of the enormous respect I have for Abhijit Bannerjee and mindful of the reputation of the iconic Calcutta University, I accorded the same,” he wrote.
In two other tweets that followed, Dhankhar wrote, “Those who compromised culture and decorum need to be in reflective mode” and “The actions of those who created or stage managed unseemly spectacle would resonate for long in the ears of cultured people of WB.”
Students who agitated against his presence alleged that Dhankhar had been trying to use his chair to help fulfil Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s agenda and that he had shown disrespect for the city’s teachers and students by repeatedly speaking in favour of BJP and its allied organisations.
There had been no clarity until Sunday whether the Governor would be invited at the convocation, especially because Chatterjee had earlier said that the convocation could happen without the Governor.
However, a senior CU official who did not want to be named said that an invitation was sent to the Governor on Monday evening, primarily because he had not signed the certificate to be handed over to Abhijit Banerjee, even though he had approved the decision to confer the D.Litt upon him.