Tamil Nadu

VCs of State universities meet Sasikala, trigger controversy

University Vice-Chancellors meeting V. K. Sasikala in Chennai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL

Vice Chancellors of as many as 10 State universities and the Registrar of Anna University on Monday met late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s close friend V.K. Sasikala, who currently holds no official position, at the Poes Garden, sparking a controversy.

The AIADMK’s official mouthpiece Dr. Namadhu MGR on Tuesday published a photograph of the academics posing with Ms. Sasikala with a caption saying they had called on her to express condolences and to urge her to “take over the leadership mantle” from the departed leader.

Questions are being raised on the propriety of academics collectively calling on someone with a political purpose.

Education activist and director of Change India A. Narayanan described the action of the top academics as “shocking and shameful”. He alleged that the Vice Chancellors had met Ms. Sasikala “in the guise of expressing grief” and claimed that this showed that they had been appointed based on political considerations.

P. Vanangamudi, whose tenure as Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University had ended on December 10, was among those who met Ms. Sasikala. “It was a courtesy call but made to ensure political stability in the State. The bureaucrats have extended their support to the universities, and in this context, the Vice Chancellors felt that they should also extend support to the ruling party. It was only a formal condolence meeting,” he told The Hindu.

‘Spontaneous decision’

According to A.M. Moorthy, the Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University, the decision was spontaneous and taken during a meeting. “We did it for the purpose of (furthering the cause of) education. We need a lot of funds from the University Grants Commission. We owe it to the (late) Chief Minister, who has done a lot for sports. I couldn’t go to Rajaji Hall (to pay respects to Jayalalithaa), so I decided to accompany the other VCs to Poes Garden,” he said.

The officials, to whom this correspondent spoke to, said they paid floral tributes to the photo of Ms. Jayalalithaa at Veda Nilayam, and courtesy demanded that they meet her aide, V.K. Sasikala, who lives in the same house.

Anna University Registrar S. Ganesan said the invitation to meet Ms. Sasikala had come from the Vice Chancellor of some universities and he agreed to accompany them since the convenor of the Vice Chancellor’s search panel of Anna University M. Baskaran, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Open University, had asked him to do so.

Significantly, the Registrar of the University of Madras David P. Jawahar decided to stay away from the meeting. “I was told that it is a protocol but I am not sure of its precedence. We cannot step into the shoes of the Vice Chancellor (the university does not have a Vice Chancellor). Besides, I was not comfortable with going as a delegation, as I believe, as an official, I must remain neutral and not align politically,” Mr. David Jawahar said.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 2:12:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/VCs-of-State-universities-meet-Sasikala-trigger-controversy/article16914720.ece

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