Presidency vandalism: TMC ministers criticise V-C

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Kolkata, April 12: West Bengal industries minister Partha Chatterjee and panchayati minister Subrata Mukherjee have criticised the vice-chancellor (V-C) of Presidency University (PU), Malabika Sarkar, and the university registrar Prabir Dasgupta for speaking to the media on Wednesday's hooliganism on the historic institute's premises.

According to a report published in leading Bengali daily Ei Samay, while state education minister Bratya Basu spoke to Sarkar on Thursday, Chatterjee said in a press conference that Sarkar and Dasgupta should have spoken to the state Governor, M K Narayanan, who is also the Chancellor of the university first and not the media. Mukherjee slammed Sarkar for joining the students' protest in the university on Thursday. He even said: "Everybody knows her (Sarkar) history, geography and science," the report said.

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Sarkar, however, had apprised the Governor of what had happened on Wednesday, both verbally and in written. The V-C had slammed Trinamool Congress (TMC) goons of carrying out the vandalism and naturally drew flak from the ruling party. She refused to be cowed down and said she did not become the V-C to please any quarters.

"My tenure of ending this September and as an alumnus, I will work for university even after returning," the report quoted Sarkar as saying.

The varsity registrar was also upset with Wednesday's vandalism. He said the policemen who were present while the vandalism was taking place did nothing to stop the armed intruders. "If this continues, we might have to call the military," he said, according to the report.

Instances of clashes between academics and political leaders do not have many parallels in West Bengal's history but it was largely owing to the fact that during the time of the previous Left Front regime, the academic office-bearers were hand-picked by the Left leadership and there was no possibility of the loyal office-holders to clash with their political bosses. But Sarkar and Dasgupta showed that they do not abide by any party orientation and hence annoyed the rulers of the day.

Sarkar said as the V-C, she wanted to ensure that the incident was not repeated. She said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to elevate the PU's status across the globe and she would request the CM to look into the matter and bring the culprits to law.

She said those who had entered the university and ransacked the laboratory and manhandled students did not look like students but armed goons carrying TMC flags.

Such incidents can happen: TMC minister

Even as attacks and assaults against CPI(M) offices and supporters continue across West Bengal following an attack on the chief minister and her Cabinet ministers in Delhi on Tuesday, state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said such onslaughts can go on if the state's chief executive is attacked.

Although Banerjee appealed for calm, but the violence refused to die down. The opposition supporters alleged that the ruling party was trying to eliminate them and hence the attacks continued unabated. He said while senior Left leaders in the state were criticising the Delhi incident, the young leaders are backing it. "Where should it stop then," he asked, a report quoted.

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