A Visva Bharati department has now put on hold a lecture by Marxist economist and political commentator Prabhat Patnaik, according to a report by The Telegraph.
He was scheduled to talk about the economy and its link with fascism on March 12 for the second Ashok Rudra Memorial Lecture organised by the department of politics and economics of the varsity.
According to The Telegraph report, the decision to withhold the lecture was taken by the board of studies of the department.
“Someone called me informing that the lecture has been postponed. Then I sent them a mail to confirm and I was told that they are not holding it right now,” Patnaik was quoted as saying by the daily.
“The vice chancellor’s secretary called up the principal of Vidya Bhavana [of which the department is a part] and told him to ‘withhold’ the lecture. Nothing was given in writing. It is becoming a practice now for orders to be issued orally,” a professor involved in the organising of Professor Patnaik’s lecture was quoted as saying by The Hindu. The professor has remained anonymous, as a recent written order has prohibited all staff, except the university PRO, from speaking to the media.
It should be noted that Visva Bharati, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921 in Kolkata, is a central university and the prime minister is its chancellor. The university, under the leadership of vice chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, has been recently inviting mostly Right-wing speakers including Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy and BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta.
Explaining how Patnaik’s name was considered in the first place—considering the administration’s Rightwards tilt—the professor told The Hindu, “He is one of the tallest economists in the country, therefore the department was keen on having him over. When we had proposed his name, the vice-chancellor appeared to nod in agreement. Obviously, we misread the nod.”
This is not the first instance when talks by those critical of the Right-wing politics have been cancelled. Earlier this month, M K Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, had alleged that a Hindutva outfit forced a college in Pune to cancel his address as part of a seminar on Gandhi.