Political pill: Persuade Jadavpur VC to stay on

Suranjan Das

Calcutta: The Trinamul Congress feels that the setback the ruling establishment is perceived to have suffered in the Jadavpur University crisis can be mitigated somewhat if vice-chancellor Suranjan Das is dissuaded from stepping down.

Das, who had said on Tuesday that he and the pro-VC would seek the permission of the governor to step down, did not go to the varsity on Wednesday.

Asked about Das, governor Keshari Nath Tripathi said on the sidelines of a meeting in the evening: "Whatever I had to tell I told the vice-chancellor through a letter. I have not received any information that he is coming to me."

Asked whether he would stick to his decision on stepping down, Das messaged The Telegraph on Wednesday evening: "I stand by my statement."

Some sources pointed out that seeking permission to resign is not the same as resigning. In case a VC wants to resign, the letter of resignation has to be handwritten and signed by him for it to be accepted.

But a Trinamul source said that "letting him go would only aggravate the damage".

The opinion is not limited to Trinamul alone. "I learnt about his intention to quit and called him up and requested him to stay on.... There are only a handful of quality academicians like him who remain in Bengal and JU must not lose out because of the protest and its outcome," state Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pradip Bhattacharya told The Telegraph.

Later, Bhattacharya called on Tripathi at Raj Bhawan. According to him, he requested the governor to try to retain Das at the helm in JU.

CPM's legislature party chief Sujan Chakraborty told this newspaper that if the situation forced Das to go, it would be a "shame".

Sources in the ruling party said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, currently touring north Bengal, was "not pleased" with Tuesday's outcome. Although no one from the government or Trinamul gave any opinion on record, it was clear from the beginning that the ruling establishment was against admission tests.

"She believes the unnecessary drama since July 4 was orchestrated. The protesting group had the active support of sections of the far-Left, active in JU," said a Trinamul source.

"But she does not want things to worsen anymore and prefers status quo," he added.

A source said the crisis at hand was precipitated by education minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee's "zeal" to address the anger within the establishment towards the movement in Bhangar, where work on a central utility's power grid has been stalled since January last year.

"She believes Bhangar is under the influence of a section of far-Left sympathisers with JU ties. The attempt to do away with admission tests was aimed at preventing the infiltration of such elements in the future," he claimed.

But the mood in the ruling dispensation is not to worsen the crisis for the time being.

According to him, given the situation, a respectable face-saver for the ruling establishment would be to keep Das as the vice-chancellor.


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