The vice chancellor of Visva Bharati University, founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, said the university is being treated as the goose that lays the golden egg but it is now in dire straits financially. He said the university is sick and on a ventilator.
"If Vishwa Bharati shuts down," Professor Bidyut Chakraborty said at a public speech on campus today, "many journalists will see a fall in income and we will die of starvation."
Professor Chakraborty was addressing a gathering to mark the International Mother Tongue Day - when the Bengali diaspora celebrates the Bangla language.
What provoked the outburst is not clear. Among his multiple targets were media, local shop and hotel owners who, he claimed, made a living off Visva Bharati, as well as Left teachers, students, the Right and 'people who wear Gandhi topis'.
"You cannot enter Rajghat on 2nd October, Gandhi's birthday. People in topis, who are the biggest thieves of the country, gather there on that day and the whole year round, they do exactly what Gandhi was against," he said.
Several people who had gathered at the Bangladesh Bhavan on the campus, anticipating a discourse on the mother tongue, were stunned at the tirade.
Many put it down to tensions on campus, especially since the vice chancellor invited BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta to deliver a lecture on CAA, NRC and NPR. Mr Dasgupta, the VC and several others were confined for several hours inside a building on campus after the lecture by Left and ultra-Left student groups.
Soon after, a video went viral in which Professor Chakraborty purportedly tells some students to go and beat up the Left students. After that, a first year student of history, belonging to the scheduled caste, was evicted from the hostel for recording the VC's controversial speech on 26th January and posting it on social media.
Earlier in December, officials clashed with local businesses who set up stalls at the famed "pous mela" - the harvest season fair that is organised by the university. Some of the shop owners had filed police complaints against the VC, registrar and other officials for molestation and theft.
In mid-January, the university locked up the office of a Left teachers' association and then issued a circular banning teachers of the varsity from speaking to the media.
"It is the vice chancellor who is making the university sick with his move to gag students and teachers. Why should they go to listen to his sick speech? They will meet him in court," a Visva Bharati teacher said today on condition of anonymity.
The Visva Bharati campus has been troubled in the recent months. The aggrieved vice chancellor's outburst today is only likely to worsen tensions with his 'adversaries'.