Moved by teachers of top varsities, Bengal guv Dhankhar to exercise power as chancellor
The acrimony between Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Trinamool Congress government is not likely to remain confined to sharp comments and tweets with the former keen on exercising his powers as the default chancellor of all universities in the state.
Only Vishwa Bharati University in Shantiniketan, which is a central university, has the Prime Minister as its chancellor.
Associations of professors and staff of the state’s two top higher education institutions, Jadavpur University (JU) and Calcutta University (CU), have urged Dhankhar in recent weeks to look into various administrative problems and issues relating to autonomy. CU and JU figure among the top universities in the country.
Raj Bhawan officials and some of these professors said Dhankhar not only met them and held discussions but also promised to intervene. On December 4, he will attend the meeting of the CU Senate where important issues will be taken up. The Senate is the CU’s highest policy-making body.
Former governor, M K Narayanan, presided over one meeting of the CU Senate in 2012, said a Raj Bhawan official who did not wish to be named. “Governors usually do not attend these meetings and delegate powers,” the official added.
Dhankhar’s decision comes in the wake of a meeting he had with a delegation of CU professors, officers and staff at Raj Bhawan on Friday. The delegation, led by Calcutta University Teacher’s Association general secretary Parthiba Basu, told Dhankhar that most of the people running the CU administration were nominated by the government and the autonomy of the university was at stake.
“We told the chancellor that many posts were lying vacant and even referred to the termination of the CU finance officer after the post was abolished,” said Basu.
Significantly, Dhankhar immediately sought a report from the CU authorities before December 3, indicating that he would take up the issues at the Senate meeting.
Last month, Dhankhar presided over the meeting of the JU Court, the university’s highest decision-making body, something no chancellor had done in about three decades. He also asked how JU selected the recipients of DLitt and DSc. Earlier, Dhankhar met a delegation of the Jadavpur University Teacher’s Association (JUTA), led by its president Partha Pratim Roy. “We told him that statutes (administrative regulations) have not been formed in JU for years. He was concerned,” said Roy.
“Teachers’ association leaders who are meeting the governor are trying to stay afloat by grabbing straws. They must remember that no university can function without the government,” education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee told HT on Saturday evening.
Dhankhar had earlier raised the issue of the state’s part-time school teachers who are observing a hunger strike right now, demanding permanent jobs and regular pay. His comments peeved the government. Mamata Banerjee and several ministers have repeatedly accused him of overstepping his powers and attempting to run a parallel administration.
On September 19, Dhankhar made news when he rushed to JU to rescue Union minister Babul Supriyo, who was barricaded by a section of students. The minister went to JU to attend attend a program organized by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student arm of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.