With the strife in the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) spilling over to Mahatma Gandhi University, the institution, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next month, has been pushed to one of the worst crises in its history: the Registrar is under suspension, the Vice Chancellor is facing an inquiry, the post of Controller of Examinations is lying vacant, a section of the Syndicate members have openly taken cudgels against the Vice Chancellor, and above all, the 1,700-odd employees, including faculty members, and 500 pensioners have not received their monthly remuneration this month, the Onam season.
A colossal fall from the days when the institution had successfully vied with Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to be selected under the Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, and made a quantum jump in quality enhancing initiatives and became a frontrunner in assuring social justice by ensuring seats for the marginal sections of society through successful implementation of the Centralised Allotment Process at the undergraduate level.
The discord, which was evident even before the selection of the new Vice Chancellor after the tenure of P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, came out in the open when it snowballed into a direct fight between the incumbent Vice Chancellor A.V. George and Registrar M.R. Unni. The fight resulted in the unceremonious exit of the Registrar, who is now under suspension.
The internal strife, however, continued and of late it has taken political colours. Under a power-sharing agreement among the partners of the UDF, the university had gone into the account of the Kerala Congress(M) and the present Vice Chancellor, A.V. George, has clear Kerala Congress(M) affiliations, which he has never covered up. Opposing him are a section of the Congress Syndicate members.
The internal rivalry has grown into a full-blown conflict when the Chancellor (the Governor of Kerala) served a show-cause notice to the Vice Chancellor on the issue of sanctioning 79 new off-campus centres. Within 10 days, another show-cause notice was served on him seeking an explanation on the creation of 56 new posts. Both were based on reports from the Higher Education Department. The latest blow in the conflict was the stalling of the monthly share of the government grant, to be disbursed as salaries and other expenditures, allegedly by the Higher Education Department.
Speaking to The Hindu, the Vice Chancellor said the university has not received the grant so far, and there has been no official intimation about the reason for stalling the grant. The university has already asked for the concurrence of the government for the creation of the new posts and also that the expenditure for the new posts would be met from a self-financing fund.
‘‘As far as I know, the grant has been stalled unofficially by the Higher Education Secretary,’’ he alleged.
The campus witnessed a series of strikes by employees over non-payment of their monthly salary.
Meanwhile, the issue has been taken up by the political bosses with the Kerala Congress(M) and its chairman K.M. Mani making a strong case on behalf of the Vice Chancellor. The party believes that the issue would not have been taken this far unless it has the blessings of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy himself. According to party sources, Mr. Mani would intervene to bring the issues to normality.