Saffronisation cry at Visva-Bharati
Visva-Bharati will next week jointly organise a workshop with the Rashtriya Kala Manch, a wing of RSS-backed student outfit ABVP, triggering cries of “saffronisation” and a boycott call from sections of students.
The workshop, to be jointly organised by the Manch and the central university’s Centre for Journalism and Mass Communication, is the first official programme of Visva-Bharati involving a political outfit. The event, titled “National Art-Cultural-Communication Workshop”, will be held at the Lipika Auditorium on the varsity campus between October 21 and October 23.
CPM student wing SFI has submitted a letter to vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty seeking action and threatened a movement if the Rashtriya Kala Manch is allowed to be part of the workshop.
“To give space to a political organisation to promote saffronisation of the campus is unprecedented at Visva-Bharati,” said Somnath Sow, the SFI unit secretary of the university.
“The Rashtriya Kala Manch is designed to promote the students’ wing of a particular political party which we think, you will admit too, is a clear violation of university norms and tradition,” the SFI has said in its letter.
The Trinamul Chhatra Parishad has also decided to write to Chakrabarty and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chancellor of Visva-Bharati, against the alleged attempt to “saffronise” the institution.
“A group of teachers and officials is trying to boost the ABVP at Visva-Bharati. We will protest against it and write to both the VC and the Chancellor,” said Suranjan Chatterjee, the Birbhum district president of the TMCP.
Apolitical students of the university have protested on social media, calling for a boycott of the workshop. Several teachers said there would have been no controversy had the Manch held the programme with its own infrastructure. In this case, it will be using the name and crest of Visva-Bharati.
“It is an attempt to inject the venom of the saffron camp into this campus, and the authorities are certainly promoting this. The saffron outfit is using a department of the university along with an auditorium,” said a senior teacher.
The ABVP’s Bengal and national units have begun promoting the event on social media.
“The Rashtriya Kala Manch is our own organisation. It is our cultural wing and it promotes our agenda. We are organising the workshop under the banner of the Rashtriya Kala Manch at Visva-Bharati,” said Rupak Mondal, the Birbhum chief of the ABVP.
However, Meghnath Das, the state convener of the Rashtriya Kala Manch who visited Santiniketan on Friday, claimed there was no political connection with the workshop. “We are not going to promote any political agenda through this workshop,” Das said.
Sudipta Bhattacharyya, the president of the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association, said: “We are against any kind of collaborative programme of Visva-Bharati with any political organisation.”
Biplab Loho Chowdhury, the head of the Centre for Journalism and Mass Communication, said: “I don’t know whether the Rashtriya Kala Manch is political or apolitical. I know that they organise programmes in other universities. As a result, we agreed to their proposal to hold the workshop.”
VC Chakrabarty did not take calls from this newspaper. Public relations officer Anirban Sircar declined comment as he was “out of station”.