KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Friday twice encountered black flag demonstrations by students of Presidency University here while another section gave her a standing ovation when she announced financial grants for the premier institution.
Even though the Chief Minister refrained from making any political statements, reacting to the students’ demonstration, she remarked, “Under the democratic system, people of all thoughts will exist. I don’t think everyone will like me. But I will certainly not explain why I cannot enter here. Why should I need permission to come here? This is my birthplace and I have every right to come here as I have been invited.”
Prior to Mamata’s arrival, the students also showed black flags to state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee when he arrived there. They also put up posters saying, ‘We want justice’, ‘Presidency cannot be purchased with money’, ‘Not welcome in Presidency - CM’.
The students were protesting against the ransacking of Baker Laboratory and attack on the university by local TMC workers in April, 2013. Neither Mamata nor Chatterjee could enter the main building because of the demonstration and they headed straight to the Derozio Hall where a function was held.
In her short speech, Mamata quoted Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji was once a student of Presidency College, founded by the British in 1817, but was expelled from the institution for assaulting the Principal and later graduated from Scottish Church College. Mamata said, “Netaji had said that leaders don’t drop from above but grow up through their work. People commit mistakes only if they work. This institution has produced many talented persons, who brought fame to the country.”
According to her, “Presidency University will be a world model and would carry forward the famous saying: ‘What Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow”. “I want the students and the young generation to maintain discipline and remain devoted and dedicated,” she said.