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'Hanky-size dresses not Bengali culture'

KOLKATA: State panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday took a dig at Jadavpur and Presidency University students saying if"garments are smaller than handkerchiefs", it is symptomatic of a decadent culture. Mukherjee was trying to point out a difference between political opposition"which he welcomed" and gradual cultural decay, which is"contrary to Bengali culture".
Speaking to reporters, Mukherjee said,"There can be protests and agitations against us (Trinamool).This is healthy politics and we welcome it. Kintu er dhara ebong sanskriti Bangali sonskar er moddhe thakte hobe (but its culture should be confined within Bengali beliefs and rites). What they do in the name of protests, I can't even speak of. Jadavpur and Presidency universities are no longer the front-runners. If your dress is no bigger than a handkerchief what can you expect? This is cultural decadence. It used to hurt me before that I didn't study in these two institutions, now I believe I am among the few lucky ones not to have done so."

The statement by Mukherjee appears to be in contrast with when he took a lead -much to the chagrin of his party colleagues -when, in December 2014, he said he appreciated the resolve and firmness of Geetasri Sarkar, a JU student who refused to take her award from Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on the convocation dais, protesting the presence of then VC Abhijit Chakraborty .

On Sunday, Mukherjee resonated the much-critised comment by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh when he called JU's woman students"below standard, shameless and constantly seeking company of male students". Ghosh made the remarks while reacting to allegations of molestation by students during a scuffle between ABVP and Left-leaning students over screening of a film on May 6.

State Women's Commission chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee feels the repeated reference to a woman's apparel in every context is a reflection of deep-rooted male chauvinism."Given the context of his speech, he could have refrained from drawing that example. Why always women? These days we even see semi-clad men in market places and malls? How will he explain that?" she asked, adding:"This is completely baffling, even ridiculous. Why should every argument be reduced to what a woman chooses to wear. It seems the sole focus is that even after so many years."

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