Kerala governor claims wilful omission by varsities; govt terms it a saffronisation move

Khan said that going by media reports, the state government has given universities verbal instruction not to send their nominees.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. Photo | Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The unusual move by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan constituting search committees for selection of vice-chancellors in six universities, without university nominees, has opened up a new battlefront between the governor and the Left government in Kerala. The move, amidst the ongoing tussle over the running of state universities, has caught the state government off guard.

While the governor justified his decision alleging willful omission by universities, Higher Education Minister R Bindu termed it part of a saffronisation move. There are indications that some university syndicates are planning to approach the court against the governor and have sought legal advice in this regard.

A day after constituting search committees for the selection of VCs for six universities - Kerala University, MG University, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Kerala Agricultural University and Malayalam University - Governor Khan said he was merely doing his duty, as despite repeated reminders, universities had failed to propose their representatives.

“Since last year, there has been a wilful omission on the part of university authorities, despite repeated reminders. They were under instruction not to send their representatives. If they don’t do their duty, it should not stop me from doing my duty. I waited for a long time, before constituting the committees,” said Khan while speaking to the media here on Saturday. He pointed out that 10 universities in the state have no regular vice-chancellors.

Khan said that according by media reports, the state government has given universities verbal instruction not to send their nominees. The governor said he was under obligation to constitute search committees to ensure that universities have regular vice-chancellors. “I have been trying to persuade them to send their nominees for the last one year, sending them reminders again and again. Six reminders have been sent to Kerala University. In the last meeting convened for the purpose, the education minister arrived at the venue and intervened in the meeting. If they do it wilfully, and deliberate attempts are made to create lawlessness, how can I help it,” he asked.

Responding to questions that some university authorities are planning to move court against Khan, he said the court itself has made its stance clear in the matter. “The last judgment of the court is very clear. University authorities were directed to send their representatives within a month. If the university authorities fail to send their representatives, the chancellor shall go ahead in accordance with the provisions of the act and UGC regulations,” he said. As per the UGC regulations, university nominees are not necessary in search committees, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister R Bindu alleged that the move was part of a saffronisation agenda. The governor has nominated some people to various committees just because they belong to ABVP. It’s an encroachment on democracy, she said.“There’s a saffronisation move in the higher education sector. Even in NET examination, questions were asked from irrelevant portions of Ramayana and also on Praana Pratishtha. The Centre is trying to implement its Hindutva agenda through governors,” she alleged.

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