The Sanskrit University Bill has brought to the fore the divide between the Governor Balram Jakhar and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Jakhar’s refusal last week to sign the Maharshi Panini Sanskrit University Bill, 2006 has jeopardised the government’s plan to open the first Sanskrit university in Ujjain. The assembly passed the bill last November.
The governor says the bill is incongruous and does not conform to the Act that governs other universities in the state. He means the Madhya Pradesh University Act, 1973, which vests the powers of the chancellor with the governor to appoint vice chancellors in state universities. The Sanskrit University Bill, on the other hand, seeks to empower the chief minister to appoint the vice chancellor. The governor’s role is virtually zero in the proposed university.
This has peeved Jakhar, a Sanskrit scholar himself. “If the government rectifies the inconsistencies, then only will I sign the bill,” he said in Ujjain recently. Chouhan has declined to comment on the governor’s refusal, saying he will not cross the ‘Laxman Rekha’ on the issue.
But the higher education department is firm on getting the bill passed in its existing form. A senior officer said the draft bill was shown to the governor before its passage in the assembly and the Raj Bhavan had raised no objection.
But Raj Bhavan sources say the bill is ambiguous about the powers of the governor and the chief minister. It provides for the chief minister as chairman of the general council of the Sanskrit university that will decide the appointment of the vice-chancellor.
It also says the chancellor (governor) will appoint the vice chancellor on the ‘recommendation’ of the chairman of the general council (the chief minister). But the bill is not clear if the CM’s recommendation will be obligatory for the chancellor. That is the bone of contention.
Sources say the Sanskrit university is part of the RSS’s agenda to promote the language in the state. They say the provision to make the CM the appointing authority is to ensure the RSS’s control over the university.
The state government has also decided to constitute a Maharshi Patanjali Sanskrit Sansthanam — a body in which the State Sanskrit Board, State Yoga Training Centre and Jeevaji Observatory are to be merged. A bill to this effect was passed by the state assembly.
School Education Minister Narottam Mishra recently said the government had decided to make Sanskrit a compulsory subject in classes VIII, X and XII. Plans were afoot to appoint about 175 teachers for teaching Sanskrit in rural areas, he said.