I am paying the price for taking on the regime, says the psephologist
The Central government on Wednesday removed psephologist Yogendra Yadav from the University Grants Commission (UGC) for joining the Aam Admi Party, saying his association with the UGC “may not only set a dangerous precedent but may even give scope for future politicisation of the UGC and its academic decision making.”
Professor Yadav, an office-bearer of the AAP, was served a show-cause notice on September 4 by the Human Resource Development Ministry. The notice cited conflict of interest “as his antecedents and credentials at the time of his appointment in 2011 now stand substantially altered.”
In its order issued late in the evening, the Ministry said: “The Central government, in pursuance of powers vested under Rule 6 of the UGC (Disqualification, Retirement and Conditions of Service of the Members) Rules 1992, hereby retires Yogendra Yadav from the post of member, UGC, with immediate effect.”
Professor Yadav told The Hindu that though he was yet to receive the order, he had come to know about it from the media. “I am surprised that the government has decided to go ahead with its decision despite knowing there was nothing in the UGC Act, Rules and Code of Conduct that barred an active member of a political party from being a member. Being a student of political science, I understand the games governments play. If you dare to take on a regime, you must be prepared to pay the price,” he said.
Pointing out that he had not yet decided whether or how to pursue the matter since there was nothing personal in it, he said it was a place where he thought he could contribute to higher education. “Ordinarily, the matter should rest here, but the question is will it be a precedent that whoever asks uneasy questions will be thrown out? I do not want to become that precedent.”
Rejecting his response to the show-cause notice, the Ministry said: “The implicit intention of lawmakers was exclusion of politicians (from the UGC). The UGC members till now have been appointed only on this basis, which is proved from the fact that never was a UGC member retired by any government even when the ruling party changed at the Centre from time to time.”
In his reply on September 10, Professor Yadav described the notice as politically motivated and, while refusing to step down, sought to know whether the Ministry would have acted with similar “zeal” had he joined Congress. He also referred to Acharya Narendra Deva, a renowned scholar of Buddhism and national president of the Socialist Party, a leading Opposition party of the day, who was appointed Vice-Chancellor of two universities consecutively by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Dismissing Mr. Yadav’s observations, the order said the example of Deva was not relevant in the present context as the UGC Act took effect in 1956, the year in which he died. “The UGC has made the post of Vice-Chancellor a selection post and has laid down qualifications for it. The selection of Deva by Nehru had happened long before these developments. Those were extraordinary times requiring exceptional measures and means. Indian democracy has traversed a long distance since then.”