West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been conferred an honorary Doctor of Literature (D.Litt) degree by the University of Calcutta on Thursday. Accepting the honour at a glittering convocation ceremony in Kolkata, a visibly overwhelmed Banerjee said she was proud to be an alumni of the university.
“I am an alumni of this very university, I love Calcutta University. This will only inspire me further,” she said.
With the university’s decision being challenged at the Calcutta High Court through a public interest litigation (PIL), a visibly upset Banerjee said, “You all have chosen me for this honour but I don’t believe I deserve this. My life is all about neglect. Even when you chose me for such an honour, I had to bear a lot of disrespect.”
Accepting the degree from Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, an emotional Banerjee said she was in a dilemma whether to attend the event on Thursday while the High Court heard the petition challenging the university’s decision to confer the award.
“I want to visit those places where my honour remains intact. But the kind of respect you have bestowed on me, no amount of opposition could have deterred me today,” the 63-year-old said.
“I don’t need much in life expect for a bit of love. That is the only thing I seek. My entire life has been a story of struggle. I have been hurt all my life, yet I have never given up. Do you know why? It’s because I love all of you and remain indebted all my life,” she said.
A former Calcutta University professor, who has filed the petition challenging the varsity, claims the decision to confer the honorary degree to the chief minister was arbitrary. The case that is being heard by a division bench of acting Chief Justice J Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee remained inconclusive and will continue on Friday.