Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar said today that he is still in shock about yesterday's students' protest at the Calcutta University function meant to award an honourary degree to Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee. The protests kept him cooped up in a room for 30 minutes and forced him to leave without getting anywhere near the stage.
Hinting at a political conspiracy, the Governor -- who has been involved in a very public feud with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for months -- said yesterday's events "did not happen spontaneously".
"There have been many reasons why the great moment was allowed to be eclipsed by ugly forces, evil forces of disruption. I want to underscore today what doom it augurs for this city.... sliding down to ominous levels," Mr Dhankar said.
The incident, he said, marked a break in "163 years of tradition" as a "duly invited" Chancellor was forced off the venue by unruly mobs without the conferring a degree.
A yesterday's function, the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the Calcutta University, was expected to confer a honorary doctorate on the Nobel laureate. Instead, he ended up in a backroom, as Vice Chancellor Sonali Chakravarty Bandhopadhyay pleaded with the protesting students to allow him to attend the event.
The students, however, refused to relent. It was the Vice-Chancellor who finally conferred the degree as the Governor headed back.
This was not the first time the Governor faced the wrath of academics. The last occasion was on December 24, when employees of the Jadavpur University blockaded his car and stopped him from reaching the convocation venue.
"Can we afford to forget what happened on January 28? This is not a political question but an existential one," the Governor told reporters today. "Can such malicious elements be allowed to hijack such institutions as yesterday?"
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Mr Dhankar have been openly battling each other for months through tweets and public comments. The Chief Minister has even accused him of being a BJP stooge.