President snubs HRD ministry on AMU executive council picks

  • Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2016 07:42 IST
The President’s office returned the HRD ministry’s file recommending a candidate to fill a vacant seat on Aligarh Muslim University’s executive council. (Hindustan Times)

President Pranab Mukherjee’s office has returned an HRD ministry file recommending candidates to fill a vacant seat on Aligarh Muslim University’s executive council and asked it to send more names, it is learnt.

The ministry recommended the names of India TV editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma and Vijay P Bhatkar, architect of India’s first supercomputer and president of Vijnana Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organisation involved with the Swadeshi Science movement, sources said.

The President’s office returned the file, asking the ministry to send more names to fill the vacant slot on the university’s highest decision-making body. Of the 28 members on the council, three are recommended by the ministry but the President’s approval is mandatory as he is the visitor of the university.

The HRD ministry refused to comment on the issue.

“Names will be discussed and finalised soon. The process will take some time,” a senior ministry official said. However, it seems unlikely that Sharma and Bhatkar will be considered any more, a source said.

This is not the first time that the President has questioned the ministry’s choice. Recently, HRD minister Smriti Irani and the President differed over the Visva Bharati VC’s sacking. The President’s office had returned a ministry file recommending the sacking and asked it to examine the issue.

In January, the President ignored the minister’s recommendation while appointing M Jagadesh Kumar as VC of Jawaharlal Nehru University, sources said.

The ministry has been at loggerheads with Aligarh Muslim University over the issue of setting up new university centres across the country. The Opposition has targeted the government on the issue, alleging undue interference. VC Zameer Uddin Shah said on Thursday that he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify issues related to Irani’s refusal to fund the university centres in Kerala, Bihar and West Bengal. Irani had termed the centres illegal.

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