Political slugfest over nod to Chanakya University Bill
The Karnataka Congress on Wednesday lashed out at the Basavaraj Bommai government and its decision to deviate land acquired for industrial purposes to an organization having close links with the Sangh Parivar for the setting up a university.
Claiming that the allocation was a “misuse of power” that has caused loss to the exchequer and the people of the state, former chief minister and leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said, “The government by misusing its power took a decision in the Cabinet meeting to allot 116 acres and 16 guntas of land which was acquired for defence industry and compensation of ₹1.50 crore per acre. At this rate, the land (116.16 acres) comes up to ₹175 crore.
He added that this land was given to the Centre for Educational and Social Studies (CESS) to set up Chanakya University for ₹50 crore. Siddaramaiah further alleged that all the members of this university have close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, and are “Manuwadi’s”. @BJP4Karnataka is gifting highly priced land to RSS agency at cheaper price. It is unfortunate that government has flouted all the rules to set up University & passed a Bill to favour RSS mouthpiece which does not have any experience of running educational institution,” Siddaramaiah said on Twitter.
The Karnataka legislative council passed the Bill on Wednesday amid absolute commotion in the Upper House with the Congress continuing to oppose it.
On Tuesday, the government had hurriedly passed the Chanakya University Bill in the Lower House during the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature. The Congress accused the BJP of deviating land acquired for the Aerospace Park near Devanahalli, near Bengaluru Airport, for a private university which does not even have the eligibility.
“The University shall be a multi-disciplinary institution committed unflinchingly to the service of society through excellence in teaching, development of knowledge and direct contributions to the world of practice. The concerns of India and Indian knowledge systems will deeply inform all the knowledge endeavors of the University including teaching , research and practice Higher Education in Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Commerce, Management, Medicine, Health Sciences, Pharmacy, etc,” according to the Bill.
The university is proposed to be set up by Bengaluru-based Centre for Educational and Social Studies (CESS), an initiative by an organization called the Vidyarthi Shikshana Seva Trust and is headed by Dr. MK Sridhar, who has a doctorate in philosophy, worked in various colleges and has served as the member secretary of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission.
CESS did not respond to queries by mail nor responded to calls made by Hindustan Times.
The CESS was established in 2006 and, on its website, claims to be “engaged in myriad activities in the domain of education for over a decade and positioned itself to meet the current challenges in the society keeping education as a focal point.”
Taking a dig at the assembly speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri for passing the bill, Siddaramaiah said, “The speaker gave importance and pushed this up even though there were 8 other bills. The speaker should be impartial, above politics and political parties. Yesterday, the way he acted did not seem impartial.”
The speaker had praised the government and encouraged more such organisations that promote and teach “Indian culture” to prevent students and the educational system from getting “westernised”.
DK Shivakumar, the Karnataka Congress president, also the promoter of an educational institution, said that any college that needs to be in existence for at least five years to be eligible to apply for the status of a university.
“Why are you acquiring land for some other purpose and why are you deviating this. You are setting a very bad precedent. They have no qualification or eligibility and this is a misuse of power to promote RSS,” Shivakumar said.
The Congress president also said that each acre on the National Highway near the airport costs around ₹10 crore per acre and 116 acres have been given for a paltry ₹50 crore.
The Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) acquired land here to accommodate the Aerospace and Defence Park which has not been the biggest success for the state government.