Your Excellency, did this VIP need your rescuing?
Footage has emerged showing Babul Supriyo, 48, throwing his weight around “as the elected representative of the country and minister” as Suranjan Das, 65, the Jadavpur University vice-chancellor, politely tries to reason with the BJP leader in the middle of Thursday’s standoff.
Supriyo had gone to the university as a “sangeetshilpi (singer)”, not a minister. The university had not invited Supriyo but he was there to attend an event organised by the JU unit of the ABVP, the student wing of the RSS.
However, the footage suggests that when matters went out of control, Supriyo slipped into VIP mode and flaunted his ministerial status.
The following is a description of the content of the footage:
Outside KP Basu Memorial Hall, students have gathered around Babul Supriyo. Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das wades through the crowd along with a few university guards and comes face to face with Supriyo.
Supriyo to Das: Ami ekhane political leader noy, amar ekta onyo porichoy achhe (I have not come here as a political leader, I have another identity).
Supriyo (voice rising): Onyo porichoy chhara I am an elected representative of the country and a minister (Other than that identity, I am an elected representative of the country and a minister).
Das, looking tense, nods in agreement.
Das: Nishchoi (Of course).
Supriyo: What were you doing? You should have received me!
Das opens his mouth to reply but Supriyo, whose tone cannot be described as civil by any yardstick, repeats himself.
Supriyo: You should have received me!
Das: I was not invited (to the ABVP event). I was not invited.
Supriyo: I am coming to your campus.
Das: I was not invited.
Supriyo (by now the minister is shouting): You need not be invited, but I am an invitee in your college! What were you doing? Apni thakle eta hoto na (This — the students barricading Supriyo and pulling his hair — would not have happened had you been here).
Das raises a finger, addresses the minister as “Sir”....
Supriyo: Apnader jonyei Pashchim Bangey arajakota hoyechhe (It’s because of you all that West Bengal has witnessed lawlessness).
Supriyo (raising a finger and turning up his voice): Apni chaichhen eta hok. I’m sure you are a Leftist! No, apnar campus-e ekjan kendriya mantri ashchhe — ami byektigoto bhabe bolchhi naa — apni keno thakben na (You wanted this to happen. I’m sure you are a Leftist! No, a Union minister is coming to your campus — I’m not talking about myself personally — why won’t you be there)?
Das tries to speak again but in vain.
Supriyo: Apni chaichhilen. Aajke shikkha byabosthar ei jonye ei abastha hoyechhe (You wanted this. The education system is in this state because of this).
Das: Aami jokhoni khobor peyechhi tokhon eshechhi, jokhoni khobor peyechhi tokhon eshechhi (I came as soon as I received the news, came as soon as I received the news).
Journalists and students in the background are trying to draw Supriyo’s attention. The minister turns round and speaks to unseen students.
Supriyo: Aay edikey, edikey aay! Edikey esho (Come this way, come this way! Come here)!
Journalists and students keep shooting questions at Supriyo.
Supriyo: Ami ekhanei thakbo. Ami ekhanei thakbo. Tumi debate korbe? NRC-r full form ki? NRC-r full form ki? NRC-r full form ki? What is the full form of NRC? What is the difference between.… What is the difference between NRC... jano na bhai, na jene... NRC ki seta jano, tarpor birodh koro. NRC ki eta jano, debate koro, tarpor birodh koro (I will stay here. I will stay here. You want to debate? What is the full form of NRC? What is the full form of NRC? What is the difference between…. What is the difference between NRC... you don’t know, brother... without knowing... Know what the NRC is, then oppose it. Know what the NRC is, debate it, then oppose it).
The minister turns back to face VC Das.
Supriyo: Ami ekhane sabha korbo. Ami ekhane sabha korbo. Ami ekhanei sabha korbo (I will have the gathering here. I will have the gathering here. I will have the gathering right here)!
Das tries to speak to Supriyo and reason with him. Exchange inaudible in the din. Supriyo addresses Das.
Supriyo: Apni jol niye ashun! Apni jol anun (You go and fetch water! Fetch water)!
(It was not clear whether the demand for water was addressed to the VC or those around him.)