Left front, Guv trade blows over functioning of universities in Kerala
At the protest site in front of the Raj Bhavan, while addressing the crowd, the Left front leaders alleged that the office of the Governor was being pitted against the governments in non-BJP ruled states in matters involving universities in order to implement the BJP-RSS agenda.
The LDF and Raj Bhavan once again locked horns over the functioning of universities in Kerala, with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan alleging that the institutions have become party fiefdoms, while the ruling front charged that his office was being used to implement the saffron agenda. Taking to the streets, the fight against the Governor over the issues of VC appointments in the state universities and non-signing of bills passed by the legislative assembly, the LDF in a show of strength mobilised its supporters in massive numbers and marched to the Raj Bhavan in the state capital. Khan was not present there and is in Delhi. At the protest site in front of the Raj Bhavan, while addressing the crowd, the Left front leaders alleged that the office of the Governor was ''being pitted against the governments'' in non-BJP ruled states in matters involving universities in order to implement the BJP-RSS agenda. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers of his cabinet stayed away from the protest, but CPI(M) ally and DMK MP Tiruchi Siva was present and also spoke at the event. The DMK leader's presence is significant as the government of neighbouring Tamil Nadu is also at loggerheads with its Governor. The LDF leaders alleged that the office of the Governor ''has been reduced to advancing the political objective of the central government and the ruling BJP'' and that Governors were acting as ''agents of the Centre'' and ''trying to topple elected governments in non-BJP ruled states''. Hitting back at them, Khan indicated that he was not concerned by the massive protest outside his office-cum-residence in Thiruvananthapuram by saying that there is enough evidence to conclude he cannot be ''pressurised'' by such tactics. As Chancellor of universities in the state he had become totally frustrated in the last three years due to the government interference which continued despite giving him an assurance, ''in black and white'', that it would not, he said in Delhi. Khan further said that there would not be any confrontation between him and the government as long as everyone stayed within their limits. ''But universities cannot be allowed to become the departments of the ruling party. We have rule of law in the country and not rule, which is contrary to the law of the land, by those elected in government.'' ''Till last year there were 13 universities in Kerala and VC appointments in all of them were illegal. Hundred per cent. Is that so in any other state? Universities have become the fiefdom and property of the party cadre and their relatives,'' Khan said to reporters in New Delhi. In his inaugural address at the protest site, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the kind of ''conflict situation'' happening in Kerala was occurring in other non-BJP states as well. ''There is a situation where office of the Governor is pitted against the state governments, the acts of the state government regarding state universities and against the VCs appointed in accordance with the law adopted by the legislative assemblies. '' ''This matter of controlling education is an important aspect of the BJP-RSS' political design to convert this secular democratic India into a fascistic Hindutva rashtra of their liking and for that they require to control education and the consciousness of our youth.'' Yechury said that BJP and RSS want ''mind control.'' ''They do not want creativity. They want people to think in a backward obscurantist manner, victims of superstition and blind faith, so that their project of a Fascistic Hindutva rashtra can succeed. Kerala's higher education is the obstacle to it and so that is why they are attacking it.'' ''The role of the Governor as a Constitutional position is now being reduced all over as an office that is advancing the political objective of the central government and the ruling BJP.'' He said the Governor and the Centre are arguing that the state laws must be in consonance with the UGC guidelines. ''These guidelines are subordinate legislation under the UGC Act. Some courts have opined that UGC guidelines are supreme. ''So this has to be properly reviewed. I think all non-BJP governments must seriously together consider moving the Supreme Court saying that you cannot encroach on the rights of the states and state assemblies to decide matters connected with universities,'' he said. Khan, on the other hand, said the Supreme Court and Kerala High Court decisions have cleared up things and ''now it will not be possible for anyone to illegally interfere in the functioning of universities''. Yechury, in his speech, also said the position of Chancellor of universities was ''not automatically inherited'' by a Governor and is given by the legislature. CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan and CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran spoke along similar lines at the event and made it clear that the Left front no longer intended to have Khan at the helm of universities in the state. Rajendran also said, ''We need to think whether we even need a Governor who is a remnant of the colonial past.'' Meanwhile, both the Congress and the BJP opposed the LDF protest march. AICC general secretary K C Venugopal told media in Delhi that the government appointed VCs in violation of norms and to absolve themselves they were carrying out the protest march and it was ''creating anarchy in the state''. BJP state president K Surendran, told media at Kozhikode, that party workers would be going to all government offices in Thiruvananthapuram to find out if anyone took part in the protest march after marking attendance. ''Such persons would be brought before the law,'' he said after the Kerala High Court refused to stop the protest march organised by LDF but directed the Chief Secretary to consider Surendran's representation against the alleged participation of government employees in the agitation.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)