The tussle between Punjab technical education and industrial training minister Madan Mohan Mittal and the search panel tasked to select IK Gujral Punjab Technical University (PTU) vice-chancellor (V-C) took a new turn on Tuesday with key members of the PTU governing body saying that three persons shortlisted for the V-C’s post were the “best and the finest”.
“I stand by these recommendations. Three best and the finest persons suited for the job were selected,” Mohan Paul Singh Ishar, V-C of Maharaja Ranjit Singh State Technical University, Bathinda, and member of the PTU governing body, told Hindustan Times.
Other members of the governing body also echoed similar views.
Having failed to push the four-member search committee led by chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal to include two more candidates in the panel to select the next V-C, the post that has been lying vacant since January 2015, Mittal has now waged a “now-or-never battle”.
The senior BJP leader, Mittal, has gone public twice in past week blaming chief secretary — head of the PTU governing body as well as search committee— for “violating rules” while sending the panel of three shortlisted candidates.
The minister’s other grouse is that the search committee has recommended names of “three professors who are working in colleges”— a contention that is grossly contrary to facts.
Official records reveal that the PTU board of governors had approved the panel for the V-C’s post that comprised MP Poonia, director of National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR), Chandigarh, VK Rattan (professor, Panjab University) and Sanjay Marwaha, professor of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur.
“The governing body also endorsed the recommendation of the search committee that at serial number 1 (Poonia) is far above the ones at serial number 2 (Rattan) and serial number 3 (Marwah) who are more or less on the same footing,” reads the board of governors meeting proceedings.
However, when the matter was placed before Mittal, he in writing had directed the search committee to add two more names.
As the search panel didn’t budge, the minister took up the matter with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who has been keeping mum. This seems to be the primary cause behind Mittal’s outburst against chief secretary Kaushal.
“The buck stops at the CM, who is the final deciding authority. If the minister has a problem, he should persuade the CM to scrap the panel prepared by the search committee,” another governing body member, urging not to be quoted, said.
“The board of governors had recommended three names shortlisted by the search committee as they were much above the rest. Poonia was the first choice as he is the finest
person for V-C’s post. We have been interacting with him in various capacities and he was the best person among all candidates. If somebody wants to know about Poonia, he must visit NITTR and see what a wonderful job he has
done. Other two persons are also the best recommendations. But Poonia stands out. The search committee did a wonderful job,” Dr Ishar, V-C of Maharaja Ranjit Singh State Technical University, Bathinda, said.
Disagreeing with the minister, another governing body member, who is not an IAS officer, said: “Three persons shortlisted were the very best among those 30-odd people who were interviewed by chief secretary Kaushal, MP Singh, principal secretary to Punjab governor, Rakesh Kumar Verma, IAS and acting V-C of the PTU and Chander Mohan, former chairman of Punjab Tractors.”
Now, all eyes are on CM Badal. Will he blink, finally?