‘RSS man’ Rajnish Arora never far from controversy
Arora operated authoritatively and was accused of making recruitments from families of the saffron ideology. Also among the controversial appointments was that of his former classmate Praveen Kumar, whom he made his adviser and who is now samong those booked in the case.Updated: Jan 09, 2018 10:29 IST
Rajnish Arora was widely seen as a candidate pushed forward by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) when he was appointed vice-chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Kapurthala, in December 2008 during the tenure of the SAD-BJP alliance. On Monday, as he was arrested in a corruption case by the state vigilance bureau 10 months after the Congress returned to power, the action is being seen as an outcome of his workings while on the post for two tensures of three years each.
An electrical engineering graduate and also a PhD-holder from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, the Amritsar native first worked for the Sangh in Delhi. And then his wife and he worked for an associate body of the RSS in Naxal-hit areas of Jharkhand.Arora, whose father was also associated with the RSS, has a son and a daughter.
Arora is learnt to have a “good reputation” among powerful bureaucrats at the helm of affairs in the present government.
He was working at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in Amritsar when he was picked for the PTU top post, which he held until January 2015.PTU is a state university with 288 affiliated colleges providing engineering, management and pharmacy education. It has nearly 1,400 learning centres all over India, with a student strength of over 3 lakh and an annual budget of over Rs 300 crore.
Arora operated authoritatively and was accused of making recruitments from families of the saffron ideology.Also among the controversial appointments was that of his former classmate Praveen Kumar, whom he made his adviser and who is now among those booked in the case. Praveen‘s company was paid 8% of the admission fee received by regional centres and other learning centres.
On the academic side, Arora served as a member of the IIT-Delhi board of Governors; member of the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology, and member of the board of governors for National Institute of Technical Teacher Training, Chandigarh.
PTU spread its wings in his tenure and a number of colleges are now running as private universities.It was because of his strong links with powerful businessmen in the education sector that he continued to enjoy complete say, and the BJP kept a strong grip over private colleges, observers said, on the condition of anonymity.
He also started some courses in ‘Vedic mathematics’ and ‘human values’, which, though appreciated by some, were seen as a bid to “saffronise” the university.Many praise him for improving the examination system, making PTU a self-sustained institution, starting a centralised online admission portal, and working towards ending the ad-hoc system of appointments.
There are now voices on the campus in Kapurthala that the case against Arora is a result of his enmity with the present dispensation. Arora, in his tenure as V-C, had dismissed dean NP Singh on charges of irregularities, but Singh was reinstated after Arora’s tenure ended.
Arora is learnt to have a “good reputation” among powerful bureaucrats at the helm of affairs in the present government, and his arrest has astonished the RSS-BJP cadre, who believed the government led by Captain Amarinder Singh would not create troubles for RSS-backed men.
First Published: Jan 09, 2018 10:29 IST