Apparently Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s kin Sugata Bose who is a TMC candidate from Jadavpur constituency has already lost!! No, elections are still a month to go. But in a “referendum” done by students of Presidency University, Sugata Bose has lost by an overwhelming majority. The students want him to be removed from the post of Chairman of the Mentor Group.
Party affiliation unacceptable
Sugata Bose, a chair professor of History at Harvard University is an alumnus of Presidency. Bose’s job is to ensure that Presidency University gets back its old glory. From all accounts, he seems to be doing his job in an efficient manner. So what has prompted this sudden outburst against him? The official reason given by the students is that they don’t want politics to enter the university premises. While prima-facie it seems a fair point, but a closer scrutiny will show it is deeply hypocritical. Presidency University and erstwhile Presidency College has always been a hub of politics. What one can sense speaking with students of Presidency University, it is not politics rather Bose’s choice of political banner that they despise.
The current regime especially the ruling party is viewed with great distrust here. Goons under the banner of TMC vandalised Presidency less than a year back. There is a fear that current regime will try to slowly get its people within the authorities and staff. That’s why Sugata Bose’s candidature from a TMC ticket is looked at with such deep trepidation. Also, Students Federation Of India (S.F.I) has considerable influence there. There is also a fear that authorities may go soft against those who tried to vandalise the university premises. State Education Minister Bratya Basu has already deemed the referendum unconstitutional. He has further argued that if Prime Minister can be the Chancellor of all Central Universities, then so can this eminent historian. The students on their part have promised widespread agitation if Sugata Bose doesn’t resign from his post.
Limitation of TMC
While some may reject this entire controversy as a storm in a tea cup it is indicative of a deeper credibility crisis TMC faces. Nearly 3 years after coming to power it still remains a pariah in the liberal intellectual circle of Bengal. While TMC’s student wing has wrested power in most University it has failed to make any impact in elite universities like Presidency and Jadavpur. It is no secret students of these universities are largely left leaning. But the ruling party has not done itself any favour by harshly coming down on J.U Professor Ambikesh Mahapatro in the cartoon controversy, the way a student of Presidency was deemed Maoist by didi for asking a tough question in a chat show!! The discourse in the English media has also been hugely critical of didi’s tenure. Thus even though a large section of Left voters have crossed side, looks like the fortress of elite universities is yet to be breached by the ruling party.
As for the students itself, they also probably need to contemplate on their actions. Often biases can cloud vision, and very often intellectuals have been accused of manipulating narrative to suit their version. Sugata Bose was not even given a chance to give his version of the story, about why he felt the need to run for elections. In a classic judge, jury and executioner wrapped into one role the students have given their verdict. The arbitrary nature of the decision can put a Khap Panchayat to shame. Irrespective of the fact whether students can decide who their mentor will not be, it certainly does not bode well for students who proclaim themselves as liberal, having a world view in every matter. Time for introspection from both sides maybe?