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AMU milestone awaits Sonia

Lucknow, Jan. 20: Sonia Gandhi will become the first woman in 88 years to deliver the convocation address at Aligarh Muslim University next month, a campus official said.

Vice-chancellor Lt Gen. (retd) Zameeruddin Shah had made the official announcement yesterday. Today, university spokesperson Rahat Abrar confirmed Sonia had accepted the invite to address the February 16 convocation.

The only other woman to have delivered the convocation address at AMU was Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal, the institution’s founding chancellor and its only woman chancellor ever. She addressed the AMU’s first convocation on December 28, 1922, and another on January 26, 1925, Abrar said.

“Sonia Gandhi, whose participation has been confirmed, will thus be the second woman to address the convocation.”

The registrar, Group Captain (retd) Shahrukh Shamshad, said the proposal to invite Sonia was unanimous. Asked why an exception had been made for Sonia if no other woman had been invited in 88 years, Abrar cited the close ties between AMU and the Nehru-Gandhi family.

The university has a medical college named after Jawaharlal Nehru (who had addressed the 1949 convocation), a hall named after Indira and a diabetic centre named after Rajiv. In 2004, when she was leader of the Opposition, Sonia had visited the campus and delivered a lecture at the Nehru Study Centre.

Among Congress leaders who have delivered the convocation address in recent years are Pranab Mukherjee (in 2007) and Manmohan Singh (in 2003).