PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday lamented that his fervent request for grant of central status to Patna University two years ago was dismissed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi denying the institution much needed help.
He said he is hopeful now that the university will get its due as Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu is present at the programme held to observe the centenary of the library of the varsity.
Later in his address, Naidu said he would talk to Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokriyal and find out if measures could be taken to accord central university status to it.
Had his request been accepted two years ago, the glory of the institute which was once considered "the greatest not just in the country, but the whole of Asia", could have been restored, said Kumar, an alumnus of the university, referring to its centenary celebrations held in October, 2017.
At that programme two years ago, Kumar said, he had repeatedly requested Modi, who shared the dais with him, "with folded hands" to consider the demand for a central status to the university.
"But my plea was turned down," Kumar said.
The prime minister, who had spoken afterwards, had dismissed the request stating that the idea of granting central status to universities had become obsolete and Patna University would do better to avail of the opportunities at hand given the government's thrust on making institutes of higher learning world class.
The development had come barely a couple of months after Kumar returned to the NDA and it had led to opposition parties like Lalu Prasad's RJD launching a barrage of ridicule on the chief minister.
"That was, however, a different occasion. Today we are here to celebrate the centenary of the library of Patna University," Kumar said recollecting that the vice president was also present at that programme as the chief guest.
Turning towards Naidu, whom Kumar has known since the days they were cabinet colleagues in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Kumar said, "Now that you are among us, I hope something would be done to give this university its due. The state government is doing its bit. But had the Centre agreed to take it over, it would have made a world of difference."
The chief minister said Bihar is the land of scholars like Aryabhatta and Chanakya ancient seats of learning like Nalanda.
"Patna University is not a run of the mill institution. It was established when there were very few modern universities in the country," he pointed out.
Kuamr said the university would have centres devoted to ecological studies.
He also urged students to take interest in social service and "do not lose sight of the role environment plays in our lives if you are interested in politics".