Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has upped the ante in his dispute with the government over the controversial reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as Vice Chancellor of Kannur University, and the University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
Mr. Khan's reaction came when journalists mobbed him at the venue of a public function organised by the Aurobindo Cultural Society on Thursday. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president, K. Surendran, stood behind Mr. Khan as he addressed a phalanx of newsmen.
Home district plea
Mr. Khan said: “I had extended the tenure of the Vice Chancellor beyond the retirement age because Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan pleaded with me. Mr. Vijayan requested that I give weightage to the fact that Kannur was the Chief Minister’s home district. I concurred. I consulted the selection committee and the Accountant General. Despite their opinion about the matter, I honoured the word I had given to the Chief Minister.”
Mr. Khan said he realised he had done a wrong. "That day, I decided I will not function as Chancellor. I wrote a letter to the government stating that I do not want to continue as Chancellor. The Chief Minister wrote to me three letters stating the government had a role in choosing Vice Chancellors. They brought immense pressure to bear on me. I said let the Chief Minister become the Chancellor and make the decisions. In the case of the Kerala University of Health Sciences, I ignored their advice," Mr. Khan said.
Mr. Khan expressed his reservations about the university Bill. He said the government had proposed the vice-chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) as the convener of the search-cum-selection committee for Vice Chancellors.
As per University Grants Commission (UGC) norms, committee members should have no transactions with universities or colleges. "The KSHEC vice-chairman deals with universities daily. I am not passing any verdict now. But, I will scrutinise the Bill," he said.
Mr. Khan reiterated his accusation that Mr. Ravindran had plotted to harm the Governor physically in 2019.
Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan said the government and Governor were shadow boxing. They could strike a detente with each other anytime. Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener E. P. Jayarajan noted the government's focus was on development, not dispute.