Referendum at Presidency
The recent opinion poll organized at the Presidency University has caught the present ruling party unawares. The issue of the poll, organized by the students’ union, was whether Mr Sugata Bose, the chairman of the mentor group of the University, should resign his post after entering the electoral battle as a candidate of the ruling party. About eighty percent of those who expressed their respective opinions were found against the continuation of Sugata Bose as the chairman of the mentor group. The current education minister of West Bengal, patently a Mamata loyalist, has declared the poll as illegal and unconstitutional, without bothering to explain why it should be so. Nobody can however deny that the overwhelming majority of students are opposed to the move to foist a person of the ruling party on them.

Before her ascent to power, Mamata Banerjee had been incessantly talking of the CPI(M)'s dalatantra (the cult of one party rule) and after becoming the chief minister, she promised to keep education out of political interference. But Sugata Bose's nomination as a candidate for the Lok Sabha polls has exposed a simple truth : Mamata Banerjee and her loyal followers want their party men to control the educational environment of West Bengal, and that Bose was appointed chairman of the mentor group on the ground of his being a Trinamul Congress loyalist. Now that the Presidency students have opposed such an open imposition of dalatantra, Mamata loyalists have become furious and talking all sorts of nonsense to cover their misdeeds. Mr Bratya Basu, the current education minister has, perhaps because his arsenal of arguments is exhausted, tried to brazen the matter out by comparing the opinion poll with a poll on the captaincy of M S Dhoni. It is difficult to imagine that an education minister can have such vulgar tastes and can stoop so low.

Be that as it may, all the democratic minded former pupils of this renowned institution can take pride in the fact that the present generation has continued their predecessors’ democratic tradition. This struggle against a despicable one-party rule should serve as an illustrative example to other colleges and universities of West Bengal. Let Mamata Banerjee and her men go on referring to the dalatantra of the Left Front rule in order to justify themselves. Let the chief minister pour out talks of raising Kolkata to the stature of London and the Presidency University to a status higher than Oxford in respect of excellence. Any sensible person with a nodding acquaintance with the history of Kolkata, London, Presidency and Oxford should understand that these talks are as hollow as anything else. So the opinion poll is not only rejection of dalatantra, but also a rejection of arrogance.
A Reader, Kolkata

Vol. 46, No. 40, Apr 13 - 19, 2014