In a fresh stand-off with the Mamata Banerjee government, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday put on hold the degree scrolls signed by him after the Jadavpur University deferred its scheduled December 24 special convocation and instead called a court meeting to discuss modus operandi of only conferring academic degrees to students.
Amid speculations over the past few days about the Mamata Banerjee government’s plans to cancel or push back the convocation, the JU Executive Council on Saturday decided to defer the programme “in view of representations from students organisations” as also press reports that students would boycott Dhankhar – the ex-officio Chancellor – if he was present at the event.
In a communication to Dhankhar, Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das said the decision was arrived at “in view of the consequent need to avoid any untoward incident in the campus”.
Das also informed the Chancellor that the University court would meet to discuss the modus operandi of only providing academic degrees to students.
An angry Dhankhar called it a “worrisome situation” and urged all former Vice Chancellors and others concerned “to guide me with inputs”.
In a series of tweets, Dhankhar claimed that the communication he has received from the university “has no legal sanction” and called it a “sad development”.
“Unable to comprehend why government is out to put education temples in political captivity at the cost of welfare of students. Why such ruinous course!!” he wondered.
In another tweet, Dhankhar said “Dignity of those to be honored has been compromised and JU image tarnished”.
“Regretfully I have put on hold the degree scrolls signed by me as Chancellor and regret embarrassment to Salman Haidar, Sankha Ghosh, Prof C N R Rao, Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay. VC has been intimated,” he said.
Eminent scientist Rao, former Foreign Secretary Haidar, veteran Bengali poet Ghosh and eminent computer scientist Bandyopadhyay were to be conferred honorary doctorates at the Special Convocation of Jadavpur University to be held on December 24.
Dhankhar said it was time for those “whose heart throbs for sound education scenario” to guide him so that “downward sliding of extraordinary and prestigious institute like Jadavpur University” is contained and autonomy restored by undoing “shackles of political bondage”.
As per rules, the Governor presides over JU convocation and awards the degrees. But in view of the bitter relations with Dhankhar, the government a few days earlier framed new rules for universities, narrowing and downgrading the role of the Chancellor.
Some JU student bodies are cut up with Dhankhar for repeatedly supporting the new citizenship law, which has triggered violent protests in the state as also in other parts of India.