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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

St Stephen’s amendment tussle: Alumni oppose Thampu move; matter to be raised in Parliament

Former Indian cricketer Azad said, “I feel disgusted by what is happening in Stephen’s. It’s not that changes are being brought in the current constitution, instead the entire constitution is being changed."

Written by Aranya Shankar | Delhi | Published: December 12, 2015 1:38:41 am

A number of prominent St Stephen’s College alumni Friday opposed principal Valson Thampu’s move to amend the institute’s 102-year-old constitution, and one of them likened his behaviour to ISIS. The matter is now set to be raised in Parliament.

A total of 17 alumni, including BJP MPs Kirti Azad and Bhartendra Singh, Congress leaders Sandeep Dikshit and Sharmistha Mukherjee, BJD MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, Arjuna awardee shooter Randhir Singh, journalist Satish Jacob and former Union minister K Natwar Singh spoke out against Thampu’s actions.

Former Indian cricketer Azad said, “I feel disgusted by what is happening in Stephen’s. It’s not that changes are being brought in the current constitution, instead the entire constitution is being changed. The way in which the amendments were passed in the GB meeting was illegal, as the quorum was not present. The Supreme Council was never supposed to have influence on the academic functioning and administration of the college but that is also being changed.”

The Darbhanga MP added, “Somebody’s dictatorial mind is working, and the college will pay for it. I never intervened in college affairs because I thought the issues were trivial, but this is a serious matter. It is better for him (Thampu) to resign now, rather than retire. We will go to the Visitor, the Minister of HRD and whoever else is necessary to stop what is being attempted. We will also bring it up during zero hour on Monday,” he added.

Addressing the media at a press conference at the Constitution Club, the alumni also spoke out against the college Governing Body (GB) chairman Warris K Masih for his letter asking the senior most faculty member of the college, Vijay Tankha, to “cease and desist” from conducting an “unauthorised” election of the teacher representatives of the GB.

Tankha said, “The fact is that the car was moving along just fine. But suddenly you stop it and decide to change the wheels, the engine, everything. Why? Perhaps because it was time for you to get off and you didn’t want to.” Thampu is set to retire in February next year.
Tankha refused to follow Masih’s orders and conducted elections in which Sanjeev Grewal and Rakhi Thareja were elected GB representatives, unopposed.

He also refused to file a compliance report, arguing that the elections were conducted as per the constitution.

Jacob said, “There are certain rules and norms which need to be followed which say that you cannot make major decisions in the last three months of your term, but it’s still being done. This behaviour is like ISIS. Even if these changes are so necessary, what is the hurry? Why can’t the next principal take these decisions?”

Mukherjee expressed “worry” over the “direction in which the college was moving”. “In the last few years, Stephen’s has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was the Rohtas Dhaba incident or the ban on the e-zine, everyone is being victimised. Stephen’s had an environment which encouraged people to question, but that is changing. We will make sure the principal does not make such changes,” she said.

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