In 1985, the then Congress MP from Jadavpur Mamata Banerjee stood exposed when the United States Educational Foundation in India proclaimed that there did not exist an institution named ‘The University of East Georgia’ from where she had claimed to have allegedly completed her doctorate.
A Twitter user named @trunills has shared an old newspaper clip from ‘The Telegraph’ saying that Mamata Banerjee, an MA in Islamic History from Calcutta University, had in 1982 claimed that she had received the “doctorate” for her research work entitled “The Impact of Mughal Harem on state and policies” under the guidance of a certain Dr. Karuna Pada Datta.
As per the Telegraph report, it was later revealed that Datta too had completed his “PhD” from ‘The University of East Georgia’ and both the teacher and student had bogus doctorates.
Till in 1985, Mamata claimed to have obtained a PhD degree from East Georgia University of USA. In 1984 LS polls, walls of Jadavpur had “Dr Mamata Banerjee” written all over them. Later found that no such University existed, subsequently Mamata stopped prefixing “Dr” to her name. pic.twitter.com/e6QEmq4U3q— নীলসুনীল (@trunills) January 24, 2021
In the run-up to the 1984 elections, as per the tweet, Mamata Banerjee prefixed her name with ‘Dr’, claiming that she had completed her doctorate. Reportedly, the walls of Jadavpur, from where Banerjee contested the seat, were painted with “Dr. Mamata Banerjee”. After it came to light that the University from which Banerjee had putatively completed her PhD did not exist, she stopped prefixing her name with the ‘Dr’ title.
After Mamata Banerjee started using the title of ‘Dr’, the United States Educational Foundation in India began receiving a host of queries on the bona fides of the ‘University of East Georgia’. Responding to one such query in February 1985, the USEFI said that “there is no record whatsoever of the existence of a university called the University of East Georgia”. It further added that any person or organization claiming to represent one or more of the bogus organizations mentioned above is a fraud.
In another response to a research scholar, USEFI said that “American International University” to which the “University of East Georgia” was supposedly affiliated, was “not properly accredited” and ipso facto the institution “may not be recognised by other universities and governments”.
Though the original 1984 news clipping could not be found on the internet, there are several references to this scandal in the media. A 2009 article published in the Economic Times mentioned the University of Georgia and the fake credentials.
Further, a January 21st article in the Telegraph India itself confirms that this report from 1985 was indeed published by Telegraph and is authentic.
Mamata Banerjee defended herself after it came to light that her PhD was bogus
Apparently, Ms Banerjee had sent her thesis to Dr Datta along with the prescribed fees. The latter sent the thesis to a certain Prof P.K Mahesh, “admission counsellor, University of East Georgia”, and faculty member, American International University, USA, posted in Delhi.
Banerjee had then received a provisional certificate for her research work and was promised the “original degree” on sending $500 to the university authorities. Even after three years since she completed the doctorate and received a “provisional certificate”, she had not sent the $500.
After it became evident that the University of East Georgia is a bogus university, Ms Banerjee had defended herself in an interview with The Telegraph. Mamata had alleged that she had submitted her thesis in good faith to Dr Datta as it would not binding on her to visit the United States. Dr Datta, on the other hand, had passed the buck on Prof. P.K Mahesh for his predicament. Datta had then said that it was Mahesh who had authorised him to serve as a research guide in Kolkata(Calcutta) and had been maintaining regular correspondence with the latter. Datta also wondered if Mahesh could run an office in New Delhi if there was anything murky about the ‘University of East Georgia’.