It's a pity Mamata is cracking down on universities that would help boost her popularity

The Trinamool Congress threw a wet blanket on Calcutta University students’ plans to host actor Dev to promote his film, ‘Cockpit’.

 |  3-minute read |   14-09-2017
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The student wing of the Trinamool Congress in Calcutta University had planned a filmi welcome for its post-graduate freshers: a promotional event of party member of Parliament-cum-actor Dev’s puja release — Cockpit. Dev was supposed to bring his co-stars Koel Mullick and Rukmini Maitra.

Flex hoardings came up and enthusiasm knew no bounds. With a day left, the education minister sent a missive: No film song and dance on college campuses, only Rabindrasangeet and Kazi Nazrul songs and everything with a whiff of Bengali tradition and culture. The elation and energy on the university campus slumped. Even the Trinamool Congress' Chhatra Parishad chief in the university was heartbroken.

The fresher’s welcome would have increased Didi's popularity quotient, not to mention the party’s appeal to a younger audience since Dev happens to be the new-age hero for many. But, it was not to be.

Some of the colleges where the Trinamool Congress controls the union have gone berserk with college fest, drawing a lot of flak. Now getting film stars to rub shoulders with students obviously will raise eyebrows.

With the party having cracked down on the colleges and universities, which were willing to tune into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s 125th year of the famous Chicago speech, allowing the Calcutta University to be used for a film’s promotion and worse, indulging the students to break into ribald numbers of film songs, would have been nothing less than decadence.

As it is, the party’s intellectual capacity is always under question, even though it enjoys the proximity of the entire cultural and intellectual brigade of Bengal. A week ago a city college, affiliated to the Calcutta University, had organised a programme at the university’s centenary hall. Later, the media came out with a footage of students in objectionable clothes gyrating to cheap songs, which made the party leaders go red. Yet, there was no reprimanding or diktat against holding such programmes.

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While the controversy was gathering steam, BJP national president Amit Shah’s scheduled visit to the state drew near. BJP leaders were looking for a spacious auditorium, befitting the gravitas of the national president’s address in Bengal. Controversy arose over the state government’s reluctance to allow Shah an audience in the Netaji Indoor Stadium, which has a capacity of several thousand. Though there was no official rhyme or reason behind the objection, unofficially the administration was not ready to host Amit Shah for propagating feelings against the ruling party and the government.

In the same logic, they refrained the state colleges and universities from entertaining the UGC’s instruction in airing the Prime Minister’s views on Swami Vivekananda and Deendayal Upadhyay. “They thought the Prime Minister would be brain-washing the first-time voters,” said a government official of the state education department.

Education minister Partha Chatterjee dubbed it as an attempt at saffronisation and politicisation of the education, using the state platform for propaganda of the government.

Despite such a whip on educational institutions when the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Shibpur, Viswa Bharati and another university under Ramakrishna Mission listened to Modi’s speech, Chatterjee made fun saying that the institutions were drawing their salary from the Centre and were bound to lend ears to Modi.

“At a time when the government was making such blatant discrimination along political lines and making big talks of Bengal’s tradition of Tagore, Nazrul, Vivekananda, Ramkrishna, laying down the carpet for the presence of film actors and actress at the fresher’s event would have been nothing less than a cultural disaster. The education minister’s caution was well timed,” said the same official.

The timely intervention might have saved the education department and the government from a guffaw, but surely it cannot save the union from having eggs on their faces for having dashed their dreams.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: Wrong to rail against Dalai Lama for not condemning violence on Rohingya Muslims

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Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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