BJP members quit varsities Bill panel

BANGALORE, JULY 6. In a sudden development, the BJP members of the Joint Legislature Committee on the Karnataka Universities' Bill resigned today, resenting the ``attempt'' to force the committee to accept the Government's views favouring withdrawal of power to appoint Vice- Chancellors from the Governor and abolition of Senates.

The members, Mr. Suresh Kumar and Mr. A.Ramdas, MLAs, and Mr. K.Balakrishna Bhat, MLC, resigned at the tenth meeting of the committee.

Giving reasons for their action at a press conference here, they said that right from the first day, they had been given enough hints of the Government's mind on the bill. This had been confirmed by a recent statement of the Minister of State for Higher Education, Dr. G. Parameshwar, who is the chairman of the committee.

Mr. Kumar said the minister had told the press that he hoped the committee would approve the changes proposed in the Bill. If not, he would go by the majority opinion and would not seek unanimous approval.

The minister had referred to the visit of the committee to Andhra Pradesh University in Hyderabad where the Vice-Chancellor is appointed by the Government, and said it had helped the members understand that appointment of Vice- Chancellors by the Government would not have an adverse impact on the functioning of universities. Dr. Parameshwar had conveniently forgetten the practice in JNU and Delhi University, which too the committee had visited. This made it clear where the chairman wanted to lead the committee, Mr. Kumar said.

At the meeting, there was a clear attempt to ``bulldoze'' their views and those of many education experts who had either appeared before the committee or sent their views in writing against the appointment of Vice-Chancellor by the Government in the interest of the autonomy of the universities. This had left them with no alternative but to resign, the BJP members said.

Mr. Ramdas and Mr. Bhat said it was not as if the BJP had opposed the two provisions for the sake of opposition, and pointed out that a provision for inclusion of a nominee of the Government on the four-member search committee for appointment of Vice- Chancellor had been accepted by them as the Government funded the universities. But they were against the Government's stand that its nominee should be the chairman of the search committee.

The Bill which seeks to replace the 1974 law on the subject was referred to the committee after it was strongly opposed in the legislature in the last session. At one stage, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had cautioned that it would stop grants if such a Bill were to be enacted.