Dr. Gobardhan Das, Professor at the School of Molecular Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the BJP’s candidate in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls has quit the party. Last week he took charge as Director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal.
“Before accepting my position (as Director) I have resigned from any political association. I have nothing whatsoever to do with any political outfit,” he told The Hindu on Friday. Dr. Das, a professor of immunology, was active on social media during the pandemic and – before COVID vaccines were available – was an advocate for the use of the BCG vaccine (used to immunise against childhood TB), as a prophylactic against the coronavirus. He was also a very vocal, political commentator and had participated in television debates as a “BJP leader” on a range of issues.
Lost assembly contest
Dr. Das, who contested on a BJP ticket in the Purbasthali Uttar (Purba Bardhaman) constituency, lost to Tapan Chatterjee of the AITMC by 6,700 votes, during the campaign he had raised concerns about violence directed at him by AITMC workers.
While Dr. Das has been off X (formerly Twitter) all of this month, his last post on 24th July ‘23 had political overtones: “Met @SuvenduWB ji at his Kolkata home and discussed the perilous law and order situation in my beloved Bengal. When a sitting DIG can brazenly refute the video-graphed assault on our BJP lady karyakarta, what else is left to say?”
Dr. Das told The Hindu that he had always separated his “scientific life” and “political life” and, in his new role, would be “far away from politics.” “As a professor, I contested elections with permission from my university (JNU). Even then (during electioneering) when I was in my lab or at university, I did not utter a single word on politics. I’m neutral and will be focussing my time and energy on ensuring that IISER Bhopal scales new heights of excellence.”
IISER Bhopal is among the seven such institutes that come under the Ministry of Education and were conceived to train students in the basic sciences and prepare them for research careers. Being centrally funded, faculty and administrators are bound by CCS (Central Civil Services) government conduct rules that bar them from political activities during service.
He said BJP was supportive of his decision, he was “encouraged and given the freedom” to pursue his interests.