Kerala

Congress, CPI(M) on the same page

The ruling Left Democratic Front and the Opposition United Democratic Front appear to have found themselves on the same page in their disapproval of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s decision to “abandon” his responsibilities as Chancellor of universities in the State.

Mr. Khan had expressed his desire to divest himself of the Chancellor’s post in protest against what he termed “political cronyism” in university appointments. Higher Education Minister R. Bindu’s contentious letter to Mr. Khan seeking service extension for Kannur University Vice Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran beyond the retirement age seemed to be the tipping point. Dr. Bindu had also demanded that the Chancellor disband the search committee for a new Vice Chancellor and allegedly cited a “questionable” opinion to bolster the government’s demand. Her stance had drawn criticism from Communist Party of India State secretary Kanam Rajendran.

The Governor had also seemed miffed that the government had given “silent sanction” to the Vice Chancellor of the Kalamandalam University to move the High Court against him.

Matters came to a head recently when Mr. Khan refused to accept a High Court notice regarding the Kannur Vice Chancellor’s service extension. Mr. Khan reiterated his stance that he would no more discharge his duties as Chancellor and forwarded the notice to the government.

Congress stance

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan termed Mr. Khan’s stance unlawful. The Assembly had vested the Governor with the powers of the Chancellor by an act of law. Unless the Assembly amended the law, the incumbent was constitutionally bound to discharge the duties of the Chancellor.

He said Mr. Khan had turned a deaf ear to the Opposition entreaties to stop the government from populating varsity senates and syndicates with Communist Party of India (Marxist) satraps and fellow travellers instead of academically oriented and qualified individuals. Raj Bhavan had not released documents regarding the issue despite several RTI requests from Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala. The reluctance had prevented Mr. Chennithala from moving the Lok Ayukta against Dr. Bindu. Mr. Khan had affixed his signature on unlawful demand made by Dr. Bindu to extend the Kannur Vice Chancellor’s tenure beyond the retirement age.

CPI(M) view

CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan appeared to echo a similar sentiment. He told a news channel that Mr. Khan was Chancellor as per an act of the Assembly. He needed to discharge the duties of the Chancellor unless the Assembly deemed otherwise.

Governor’s stance

Mr. Khan repeated his earlier stance that he felt extremely uncomfortable after signing Dr. Bindu’s letter. He said the Opposition had wrongly claimed that he had acquiesced to the government’s demand. Mr. Khan had made his displeasure clear in a letter to Mr. Vijayan. The Governor appeared to suggest that the government could promulgate an Ordinance removing him as Vice Chancellor, and he would sign it.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 11:44:26 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/congress-cpim-on-the-same-page/article38073340.ece