Referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as “Dear Mamata”, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has written back to her and thanked her for supporting people like him who are under attack.
In a short email, Sen wrote, “I am very happy indeed to get your supportive letter. I am not only most touched, but also very reassured that despite the busy life you have to lead, you can find time for reassuring people under attack. Your strong voice, along with your full understanding of what is going on, is, for me, a tremendous source of strength.”
Earlier this week, Visva-Bharati University Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty in a letter to the state government had named Sen among those who have “illegally occupied plots on the campus” – a charge denied by the Nobel laureate who has said that the land in question was registered in records on a long-term lease.
On Friday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote a letter to Sen and slammed the BJP for “levelling baseless allegations” against him. “We all salute Amartya Sen. Just because he isn’t inclined towards BJP’s ideology, they are levelling such allegations against him,” she had said.
Replying to her letter, Sen further wrote, “May I send you my deep appreciation of the warmth of your extremely kind letter. I also take the liberty of conveying to you my thanks as well as my personal affection and admiration.”
Earlier, speaking to an English language newspaper (The Telegraph), Sen had said that a big gap exists between the Santiniketan culture and that of the VBU vice-chancellor. “Having been born and brought up in Santiniketan, I could comment on the big gap between Santiniketan culture and that of the VC, empowered as he is by the central government in Delhi, with its growing control over Bengal. I would prefer to use Indian laws as they exist,” said Sen.
The Nobel Laureate further said, “We are being told by Visva-Bharati university that its vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty is busy arranging the ‘eviction of unauthorised occupation’ of leased land on the campus and that I have also been named in the ‘list of occupants’, even though Visva-Bharati has never complained about any irregularity of landholding to us.”
“The Visva-Bharati land on which our house is situated is entirely on a long-term lease, which is nowhere near its expiry. Some additional land was bought by my father as free hold and registered in land records under mouja Surul.”
The BJP had then hit out at the Nobel laureate, saying that he “should not work on the advice of failed chief minister”. “We respect him. But he should not be seen as the spokesperson of a group. He should not speak on behalf of any party. People of Bengal will gain from his intelligence and insight, but if he works on the advice of a failed chief minister, people will think otherwise. People will think that was it wrong to give him the award? His ideology is that of the Communists. It is the communists who have forced politics into everything. Communists brought politics even in educational institutions. The government blessed by him is spreading violence in the state,” Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines