Mamata Banerjee came close to tears after accepting the doctorate degree conferred on her
Mamata Banerjee, mostly mercurial, today came close to tears after accepting the doctorate degree conferred on her by Calcutta University.
"Many times while coming here, I thought should I go or should I not go to the convocation?" she said, her voice choking.
"I know I am a small person. I have always refused many honours that have been offered to me. But this honour that the chancellor, the Calcutta University has given me, I believe I am not worth of it. Because my life has been about being humiliated and ignored. Even now, over this honour, I have been insulted in many ways." she added.
"But the warmth and respect you have shown me today, nothing would have kept me away."
The applause at the venue was loud.
But her political opponents were critical. "The DLitt matter is sub judice and Calcutta university should have postponed its award," said Biman Bose, CPM leader. "Also, the chief minister's acceptance speech was totally political."
The walls of Calcutta High Court were, however, impervious. Today, arguments continued for the second day on the PIL that challenged Calcutta University's decision to give Ms Banerjee a DLitt and the case will be heard again tomorrow.
The lawyer of the petitioner -- a retired vice chancellor -- questioned why the state joined the case as the PIL was against the univerisity. He also asked if the university syndicate and senate, which met on the same day and same time, actually discussed the DLitt at all.
Calcutta University's lawyer said the DLitt was being bestowed upon the recipient and that was very different from a 'selection' or an 'appointment'. "The recipient is already a famous person," he said.
Justice Arijit Banerjee hearing the case observed the court was trying to "satisfy" itself that "there was an application of mind in conferring the degree". In the notice of the syndicate and senate meeting, the DLitt was not mentioned. How did the members came with a "prepared mind".
The CPM, at a press conference, said, "There is no autonomy in the university. The state nominates members to it who are giving the chief minister the DLitt. This hurts the legacy of the university."
At the convocation, the chief minister's speech left several people moved. "Because of the controversy over the DLitt, the chief minister was very emotional in her speech. But she deserves it," said Dr Anita Chattopadhyay Gupta, principal of Deshabandhu Girls College.
"She has come from a humble background, she has had to struggle a lot. All the media reports and comments on her DLitt, they have hurt her very much," said Partha Chatterjee, Trinamool minister and party secretary general who escorted the chief minister to the convocation today.