NEW DELHI: The national capital was abuzz on Wednesday as news broke out that senior BJP leader and lawyer Subramanian Swamy had been offered the post of vice chancellor of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The “offer” made to him was apparently nipped in the bud as Swamy set some ‘impossible’ conditions like being given emergency powers, and changing the protocol, before taking up the assignment. Interestingly, the development comes even before the HRD ministry is to finalise the search-cum-selection committee for selecting the new VC. The current VC, S K Sopory, is set to retire next January. Observers point out that Swamy’s appointment could have created another controversy for the government, as his agenda would have been to change the character of the educational institution. Sources said Swamy had asked for emergency powers to ‘clean up’ the campus of its ideological moorings. The university that has been a hotbed of Left politics and have sent many national leaders from student politics is known for its own culture, which the other parties have found hard to breach. Offering the coveted post to Swamy would have sent the message that government wanted to clean up the campus known for its hardcore Left leanings and politics.
The mercurial leader is also learnt to have sought drastic changes in the rules governing the university, including the protocol extended to the VC by the ministry of human resource development. Currently, a joint secretary-level officer engages with the vice chancellor. Swamy is learnt to have said that he would not engage anybody else other than the minister given his stature. The offer to Swamy came from the government, sources said, while some claimed that he reportedly spoke to HRD minister Smriti Irani. Known for his controversial statements, Swamy gave a peek into what was on his mind through tweets on the issue.
Replying to a question on Twitter, he said, “...Then best close down JNU and on the same campus start a new Netaji Bose University.” Reacting to the news reports on the offer being made to him, Swamy tweeted, “Media is on fire that I have been offered the JNU VC post. No formal offer nor will there be if the Government cannot meet my pre-conditions.” He did not officially specify his conditions. In reply to another tweet on Swamy becoming the VC, he wrote, ‘It will happen only if I accept.”
HRD ministry sources said under the rules age-limit for VC is 65 years, while Swamy is over 75. The advertisements for inviting applications from the interested candidates for appointment of the new VC were given in August this year. For the VC’s selection, the rules suggest names selected by the three-member committee is sent to the President before the announcement of the new VC.