Mamata threatens economic blockade of educational institutions if Governor continues to ‘interfere’

The CM also threatened to protest outside the Raj Bhavan against the delay in the passage of Finance Bills by the Governor

September 05, 2023 08:12 pm | Updated 08:13 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shows an ‘education credit card’ at a Teachers’ Day event, in Kolkata on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shows an ‘education credit card’ at a Teachers’ Day event, in Kolkata on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday threatened economic blockade of higher educational institutions in the State if Governor C.V. Ananda Bose continued to “interfere” with the functioning of educational institutions in the State.

“If the Governor continues to interfere in the affairs of college and universities and any university or college agrees to function as per his will, then I will create economic blockade. On this issue there will be tit for tat, no compromise. Let us see which in college or university you [the Governor] are able to pay salaries to the teachers,” Ms. Banerjee said.

The remarks by the Chief Minister come amidst an ongoing tussle between the Raj Bhavan and the State Government over the appointment of interim Vice Chancellors. On Sunday evening, the Governor appointed interim Vice Chancellors to 16 universities without any consultation with the State Government.

Also Read | University officials not mandated to take orders from the State govt says West Bengal Governor

The Chief Minister, who was participating in an event to mark Teachers’ Day celebrations in Kolkata, said that she found the developments relating to higher educational institutions “heart wrenching”.

“I have told him [the Governor] a number of times that please do not do this. We will pay funds and make policies and you will interfere. Have you ever heard that in the middle of the night the Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University was changed? This means that a conspiracy is going on so that the system collapses. We will not allow this to continue,” Ms. Banerjee said.

The Chief Minister also alleged that the Governor was holding back Bills passed by the State Assembly. “The Governor’s actions are an attempt to paralyse the State administration. He cannot hold back Finance Bills. If need be, I will sit on dharna outside the Raj Bhavan,” she said.

OPINION | In Bengal, a crisis in higher education

The differences between the Raj Bhavan and the West Bengal Government became more pronounced under the previous West Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar. After Dr. Bose took charge in November 2022, the differences have come out in the open, despite a thaw in relations that lasted briefly. The Governor has been maintaining that he is acting in accordance with the universities’ statutes and Acts. In June, the Calcutta High Court ruled that there was no illegality in the orders issued by the Chancellor in the appointment of 11 interim Vice-Chancellors to State-run universities in West Bengal.

None of 31 State-run Universities in West Bengal have full-time Vice-Chancellors, which has resulted in an unprecedented crisis. The Governor has appointed interim Vice-Chancellors to administer these universities without consulting the State Government.

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