The protracted row between the Nitish Kumar government and the union human resources development ministry led by Kapil Sibal, over where in Bihar should the center-sponsored central university be located, has resolved itself by way of an unexpected ‘windfall’ for the state.
In a magnanimous gesture, the union HRD minister had conceded that the center would set up not one but two central universities in Bihar (CUBs). One of these would be located at Gaya in southern Bihar, as had been approved by the center a few months ago. The second university, Sibal said, would be set up at Motihari in north Bihar, as was being insisted upon by Nitish Kumar. With this, Bihar would become only the second state after J & K to have two central universities.
By an interesting ‘coincidence’, this expression of ‘large-heartedness’ by the center came within days of the declaration by Nitish Kumar’s party, the JD (U), that it would back Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate of the ruling UPA at the center, for the post of President of India.
In backing Pranab, Kumar’s party had broken ranks with the BJP, its NDA ally and partner in the coalition that rules Bihar.
Sibal’s announcement, on Friday, marked a departure from his earlier stand that the CUB, already functioning from a temporary location in Patna, would be set up in Gaya. This stand had set off a war of words between him and Kumar, who was as adamant that the CUB should be located in Motihari.
“The HRD ministry will now initiate a move for amending the Central Universities Act, 2009 so that a second central university is established in Bihar and the development of the permanent campuses for these universities can start. The Bihar government has promised to expedite the proposals for improving infrastructure,” said an MHRD official.
Said Sibal: “Respecting the sentiments expressed by members of Parliament, both the houses of Bihar legislature and the state government, on the need for establishing more central universities in Bihar to address the issue of regional imbalance, the HRD ministry has decided to establish one more central university in Bihar, thus raising their number to two”.
The announcement came after a site selection committee, after an on-site inspection on Thursday, recommended as suitable for the university a 300-acre site on NH-28 at Bankat Bairia and Fursatpur under Chandrahia panchayat, Motihari circle.
Nitish Kumar welcomed the Centre's announcement, saying the opening of central universities at two places in Bihar would help improve the education scenario in the state.