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Students Protest Outside Victoria Memorial as BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta Addresses Kolkata Literary Meet

Students raise slogans during their protest outside Victoria Memorial, where BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta is scheduled to speak on 'Awakening Bharat Mata', during 'Tata Steel Kolkata Literary meet 2020' in Kolkata, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra)

Students raise slogans during their protest outside Victoria Memorial, where BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta is scheduled to speak on 'Awakening Bharat Mata', during 'Tata Steel Kolkata Literary meet 2020' in Kolkata, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra)

A large number of security personnel was deployed at all gates of the monument, and Swapan Dasgupta addressed a session of the Kolkata Literary Meet without interruption as the students were not allowed to enter.

Kolkata: Hundreds of Left-wing students descended on the road outside the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata on Wednesday evening, protesting against BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta who took part in an event on the grounds of the iconic monument.

A large number of security personnel was deployed at all gates of the monument, and Dasgupta addressed a session of the Kolkata Literary Meet without interruption as the students were not allowed to enter.

With placards and posters against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide NRC, they shouted slogans targeting the BJP and the Centre.

"Some people have some misconceptions. And they are completely within their rights to articulate their misconceptions somewhere else. I can't be held responsible for that," Dasgupta, also a columnist, told reporters after his programme was over.

Dasgupta had taken part in a discussion on Indian culture and nationalism at the literary while the demonstration was taking place outside the East gate, about 300 metres away, for over an hour.

The police escorted the BJP lawmaker out through the South gate, following which the agitators, who were mostly from the Jadavpur University and Presidency University, also left.

"Well, it is a literary meet. And we discussed books, we discussed my book. We had an academic discussion. I don't know why (some) people should find objection to it," Dasgupta said.

He said Kolkata remains a very good place for talks, and "despite attempts by some others (to thwart the event), it went off peacefully.

Asked if he would like to have a dialogue with the protestors, Dasgupta said, "My ideas are an open book. I write about them on a daily basis. Some of these ideas have come up in books. I am willing to have a discussion with civility."

Asked to comment on the slogans of students that "a fascist like Swapan Dasgupta should not be invited to such festivals," the journalist-MP said, "If they want a political debate there is a proper way."

The BJP lawmaker faced similar protests by Left-wing students on January 8 at the Visva-Bharati university where he went to deliver a lecture on the CAA.

first published:January 22, 2020, 22:27 IST