21 January, 2021

Campus Showdown

Left, Right & Centre: The battle for control of Visva Bharati

Photograph by PTI
Campus Showdown

The battle for influence on the campus of Visva Bharati, one of the state’s most prestigious institutions funded by the Centre, has formally taken a political turn since August 17, when a section of Santiniketan’s local residents not only foiled the varsity’s drive to raise a wall around a ground, they also vandalised constru­ction equipment and a camp office at the site besides demolishing two gates on the campus. Founded in 1921 by Nobel laureate Rab­indra­nath Tagore, Bengal’s biggest cultural icon, the VB is the only institution in India to have the Prime Minister as its chancellor and the President as ‘visitor’.

Since August 17, the developments have been rapid and the signals clear. The state’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), took a stance against the authorities, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and governor Jagdeep Dhankhar threw their weight behind vice chancellor (VC) Bidyut Chakrabarty.

The Left-leaning teachers and students blamed mostly Chakrabarty for taking a unilateral and...



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