Bengal Governor takes dig at Calcutta University VC for skipping St Xavier’s convocation
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said that some people fall ill when he goes to attend a program after the vice-chancellor of Calcutta University (CU) did not turn up at the convocation at St Xavier’s College.
“I thought I will have the occasion to see the Calcutta University vice-chancellor here, particularly as professor Asis Kumar Banerjee, a former vice-chancellor, was being honoured. I take the blame partly for myself. Several places that I have gone to, some people take ill. I don’t dispute. People fall ill in the right sense,” Dhankhar said while addressing the convocation, adding that he wishes the Vice Chancellor a ‘very speedy recovery.’
While Dhankhar was invited as the chief guest at the 13th convocation of St Xavier’s college, the VC, Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee, was supposed to deliver the convocation address. The West Bengal governor is the de-facto chancellor of state-run universities.
“I am ill. Could not go to office also,” Banerjee said in a text message in reply to a query from Hindustan Times.
State education minister Partha Chatterjee was not available to comment.
The incident took place four days after none of the vice-chancellors of the 27 state-run universities turned up at the governor’s office, despite Dhankhar’s invitation to them for a meeting. Dhankhar said that the VCs had been “chained” by the state government.
“I recollect for myself as a parliamentary affairs minister 30 years ago, I was also made to fall ill, though I was not ill. But trust me she (the VC) is a very gracious lady. She has a great positive approach. Whatever little interaction I have had with her, I am sure she would be feeling her absence more than what we are feeling today. And that goes to her credit,” Dhankhar said at the convocation.
Partha Chatterjee earlier said that if necessary the upcoming Calcutta University convocation would be held without Dhankhar as he has repeatedly spoken against the government. “The final decision would be taken by the varsity as it is an autonomous body,” said Chatterjee. The Calcutta University convocation is scheduled to be held on January 28.
Earlier, on December 24, Left-wing students and employees blocked Dhankhar’s entry into Jadavpur University (JU), where he had gone to attend the annual convocation. Dhankhar described it as “total collapse of rule of law.” The event was held in his absence.
After months of acrimony between Dhankhar and the Mamata Banerjee government over the exercise of power at universities, the VCs launched a platform of their own on Monday.
Named Poschim Bango Upacharya Parishad (PBUP), the body has JU VC Suranjan Das as president and North Bengal University VC Subiresh Bhattacharya as secretary. Three of the VCs courted controversy on Tuesday when they visited the anti-citizenship law agitation of the Trinamool Congress when Chatterjee was on the dais.