Modi won’t confer awards at Vishwa Bharti varsity convocation, Mamata ‘shocked’

Santiniketan (West Bengal), May 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not confer Visva Bharati University’s highest award Deshikottam during its convocation on Friday, the university announced on Thursday, triggering an angry reaction from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who said she was “shocked and very unhappy”.

Acting Vice Chancellor of the university — founded by first Asian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore — Sabujkali Sen said the award has been deferred for “lack of time”, adding such a development was not unprecedented.

“For the time being, due to want of time, the award ceremony is being deferred. Once in the 1960s also the same thing was done. And the eminent recipients were handed out the awards later,” Sen told reporters.

However, Banerjee, who is here for the convocation which Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also attend, said: “I am shocked over the development.”

“I am very unhappy for one reason. Those who were supposed to get Deshikottam are not getting it. I am sorry for this.

“The names included the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Dwijen Mukherjee, Jogen Chowdhury and I believe these people are beyond politics. They all deserve the award,” she said.

The Visva-Bharati academic council last month passed a resolution proposing to bestow the award on Bachchan, writers Amitav Ghosh and Suniti Kumar Pathak, poet Gulzar, Rabindra Sangeet legend Dwijen Mukherjee, physicist Ashok Sen and painter Jogen Chowdhury.

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