Presidency University Students' Referendum a Setback for TMC
The rejection by prestigious Presidency University students of Trinamool Congress nominee for Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat Sugata Bose as chairman of the institution’s mentor group has come in as a huge setback for the ruling party.
After Bose was nominated by West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata
Banerjee as a nominee for Lok Sabha polls, students of the university decided to hold a referendum as to whether he should continue as chairman of the mentor group.
There are many renowned academics of the country who are members of the mentor group, to upgrade the educational institution to international standards, appointed by the Mamata Banerjee government which came to power in 2011, and Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen is adviser to the chairman. Bose, who is also a faculty member of Harvard University of the USA, was appointed chairman. He is also grand nephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
A large number of students of the university questioned Bose’ s “credibility and impartiality as he was contesting elections on behalf of a political party” and decided to hold a vote.
In the referendum, out of 2,135 students who participated, 1,208 voted againstBose’s continuation as chairman and 316 voted for him to retain the post. Seven students did not express any opinion while 10 votes were declared invalid. The students union of the university is under the control of a body called Independent Consolidation.
Since the vote result was considered as a “moral defeat” for Bose, many academics opposed to the TMC felt either he should resign as chairman of the mentor group or refrain from contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
As a political controversy is brewing, West Bengal Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu argued, “The mass vote by the students of Presidency has no constitutional validity. In that case, how can the Prime Minister be chancellor of central universities because he is also a political personality? This vote amounts to challenging the Constitution of the country. As such, it is not only unfortunate but also illegal.” The student union has communicated the vote results to chancellor of the university West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan, and Vice-Chancellor Malabika Sarkar.
To make matters worse, the TMC on Saturday lodged a complaint with the state election commission against the registrar of the university Prabir Dasgupta alleging the “vote was politically motivated and was being used by the Opposition parties
against Bose”. Jadavpore is considered to be a prestigious Lok Sabha seat as Mamata Banerjee first became MP from this seat in 1984 defeating CPM stalwart and later Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.