University vice-chancellors in Bengal face pressure from the government, says Governor Dhankhar
A day after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee indirectly accused governor Jagdeep Dhankhar of acting like a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), without taking names, the governor on Friday said the state administration never officially told him that he was acting beyond his rights. In her comments, Banerjee also accused the governor of trying to run a parallel administration.
In Murshidabad district to attend the silver jubilee celebration of Farakka Syed Nurul Hasan College, Dhankhar said that as chancellor of all the universities in the state (except Visva Bharati) he has observed that the vice chancellors had to face pressure from the government.
“As the chancellor I have observed that the vice chancellors face pressure from the government and also the chancellor. I have clarified before them that the roles of the government and the chancellor are defined by law. We have to treat the universities as temples so that students can study in peace. This will be my effort,” Dhankhar said in Murshidabad.
TMC minister of state for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya reacted sharply. “The chancellor needs to understand how much of authority one should impose. Constitution has given us a lot of power but has also defined how much of that we should exercise. The governor has to understand this. Or else people will not accept what he says,” she said.
When asked about Banerjee’s allegation that he was trying to run a parallel administration, Dhankhar said, “The dialogue between the chief minister and the governor is either one to one or through a communication. I have not had any one to one communication with her on this point and she had not written any communication to me. I have not got any communication from the state government so far that any of my actions are beyond my right.”
“I will not react to what is there in the media and I should not be reacting a statement by the chief minister. If she has an issue either she will discuss with me or write to me,” Dhankhar added.
Dhankhar inaugurated the silver jubilee celebration of Farakka Syed Nurul Hasan College in Murshidabad. However no TMC leader participated in it. The governor drove to the district in a car and mentioned that he would have to cover 600 km in one day because the state government did not provide him with a helicopter.
While talking to the media on several issues, he said “I have heard that there is no university in this district. I will take up this issue at the right platform.”
He criticized the state government for the poor condition of some state roads. “I want to congratulate Nitin Gadkariji for keeping the national highways in good condition. Some state roads are very good. But when I was approaching the programme venue I felt the poor condition of the state highways,” he said.
Under direction from district leaders, no TMC leader went to meet the governor. TMC Farakka block president Ajarat Ali said, “We got instructions from senior leaders. We were told not to attend the programme of the governor.”
The acrimony between Dhankhar and TMC leadership touched a crescendo on Thursday when the governor said his visits to certain places in the state were triggering political reactions probably because people wanted to “hide the truth.”
In the same breath, Dhankhar said that these reactions might prompt him to spend days in Singur and Nandigram, the two most politically sensitive places during the Left era.
On Monday, Dhankhar paid a surprise visit to Singur, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a land agitation, forcing Tata Motors to withdraw its Nano car project in 2008. No official was present at the local block development office and Dhankhar had to return to Kolkata after meeting some clerks. On Tuesday local TMC workers staged an agitation, condemning the visit.