Senior Trinamool Congress leader and Panchayat minister, Subrata Mukherjee, was embroiled in a fresh controversy on Sunday after his comments on the “handkerchief- sized” dresses worn by students of Jadavpur University (JU) and Presidency University (PU). The minister was backing his earlier remark that JU should be “closed down for three years” due to recurring reports of agitation.

“Would you like your sister to wear such short revealing costumes? Will you support it?” the minister asked.

“You should visit the university and check for yourself the condition and what goes on inside these campus,” he added when asked to elaborate.

The minister, a veteran trade union leader and who himself participated in many movements, said, “I am not against movements but they should be guided in a civilised manner. It must conform to proper customs.”

Asked to state the instances where he had witnessed anti-social activities inside the campus, he said, “What happens inside the university, I cannot even speak of in public.” 

The students of JU and PU, who were seething after his previous comment of “closing down JU”, responded sharply to the fresh remarks, saying the minister has no right to speak about dress codes for the university students. 

After the attempt by the state government to restrict the autonomy of the university, students feel, this is an attempt to shape the cultural mores in the university as well. Talking to The Statesman, Jubi Shah with the Radicals of JU said, “The incorporations to the statutes and this incident cannot be disjointed events. They are linked.

“After trying to restrict the autonomy of the university, it&’s their attempt to curb the free cultural exchanges that our university supports,” she said, adding that the students of PU feel that Mukherjee&’s comments only place him in close proximity with the BJP and the Shiv Sena, who are notorious for imposing “medieval style dress codes” in universities and colleges. 

Trinamool Chhatra Parishad president Jaya Dutta did not go against the minister but carefully avoided any further controversy.