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Mamata Banerjee to share dais with PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina at Visva Bharati convocation

Breaking conventions, authorities of Visva Bharati University has invited Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to share the dais at the convocation of the university along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the Chancellor of this Central university, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“The last Chief Minister of West Bengal who attended the convocation here was Siddartha Shankar Ray. That was in 1976,” Vice-Chancellor of the university Sabujkoli Sen said on Thursday.

Mamata, who arrived at Bolpur in the evening, said at a news conference that she did not know that no other CM had shared dais with the Chancellor previously at Viswa Bharati convocation. “I didn’t know. I was invited by the university and thought I would be witness to this historic event. I have come here as a commoner,” Mamata said.

She also expressed her dissatisfaction over the cancellation of Desikottam award, the university’s highest award which the university had earlier proposed to present to people like Amitabh Bachchan, Amitav Ghosh, Dwijen Mukherjee, Gulzar, Jogen Chowdhury, Suniti Kumar Pathak and Ashok Sen, by Modi. University authorities cited lack of time for the cancellation.

“If people like Amitabh and Dwijenda were awarded it would have raised the standard of the programme itself,” she said.

Mamata said she would be meeting Hasina on Saturday before she leaves, but described it as ‘a courtesy meeting’. “We like each other very much. We had been fond of each other and met regularly even when she was the leader of the Opposition party,” Mamata said and brushed aside the possibility of any discussion on the Teesta water treaty.

The convocation function would begin at 10.30 am and would continue till 12 noon. After a break of about 15 minutes the dignitaries would move to another venue for the inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan at Viswa Bharati.

About 150 invitees would attend the event along with Hasina including Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, education minister Nurul Islam Nahid and cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor.

The Viswa Bharati VC also cleared that the administration of Bangladesh Bhavan would be done by Viswa Bharati. “Just like the China Bhavan and Nippon Bhavan where the construction money has been given by the government of China and Japan, respectively, Bangladesh has given the money for putting up Bangladesh Bhavan here but its administration would be done by Viswa Bharati,” Sen said.

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