Nitish,Governor in war of words over education reforms

The rift between Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is growing with the latest war of words on “poor status of higher education” in the state. What the state government describes as a “bid to bring about education reforms”,the Raj Bhavan finds it an attempt to “curb the Governor’s powers”

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Published: April 10, 2012 3:25 am

The rift between Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is growing with the latest war of words on “poor status of higher education” in the state. What the state government describes as a “bid to bring about education reforms”,the Raj Bhavan finds it an attempt to “curb the Governor’s powers”.

While the Governor said at a function in Madhepura on Sunday that the state government has been “trying to stifle autonomy in higher education”,the CM on Monday sharply reacted by saying “a person holding constitutional post must not speak (to government) through the media”.

Nitish said that the state government has faith in the Constitution. “I am aware of constitutional provisions. It does not suit a person (read Governor) holding constitutional post talking through the media,” he said.

Konwar had said that the state government’s duty was to “give grants,not to control it”. “Universities are not getting funds,which stifle autonomy of higher education and affect it,” said Konwar without naming Nitish.

The state government and the Raj Bhavan have not been on the same page for a year now over methods of appointments of vice-chancellors and university teachers and also over the government proposal to set up university service commission to appoint V-Cs. Raj Bhavan sources,however,find the state government’s “so-called educational reforms bid an attempt to curtail the Governor’s powers”.

The Governor also invited the state government ire by saying on Sunday that “no Bill was pending his approval”. HRD Minister P K Shahi,however,said that his department had not received information on five pending Bills.

Bihar Assembly secretariat,which first gets files from the Raj Bhavan as a part of an established procedure,confirmed that two of the five Bills had been “returned with remarks,not approved”. The Assembly’s in-charge secretary Lakshmi Kant Jha said,“Bihar State University (Amendment) Bill,2010,and Patna University (Amendment) Bill,2010,have been returned to us. This is the second time these have been returned.”

Both the Bills provide for decentralisation of the chancellor’s powers in matters of appointment of vice-chancellors and university teachers. The Bills,passed in the 2010 Budget session,were returned to the HRD ministry as they were money Bills. The Assembly Speaker ruled otherwise and the Bills were again sent to the Governor last August.

Some other education Bills pending before the Governor are Bihar State University Service Commission Bill,2011 (pending for a year),proposing to set up a university service commission to recruit and promote university teachers; Bihar University Tribunal Bill,2011 (pending for a year),proposing curtailment of court cases relating to university matters by setting up a university tribunal.

Will bring up Bihar issue in Mumbai: Nitish

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that he would attend a social-cultural function in Mumbai later this month and will take up the cause of Bihar’s people living there. He said there was no need to say anything from Patna.

“There is no restriction on visiting Mumbai. Nor is any visa needed. I will speak my mind there,” he said,adding that there had been surely some problems with Bihar’s people living in Maharashtra. He,however,did not mention MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

ENS

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