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V-Cs go for launch of Governor’s biography, return with cartons of its copies — and a bill

The bill amounted to Rs 68,383 for 19 copies of the Governor's biography, titled Nimitt Maatra Hoon Main (I am just a medium), in hardcover coffee table format. One additional copy of the biography was for free.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: July 4, 2021 7:15:55 am
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Governor Kalraj Mishra, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and others at the book launch in Jaipur on July 1. (Express photo)

On July 1, after the launch of a biography of Governor Kalraj Mishra on his 80th birthday, vice-chancellors of all the 27 state universities in Rajasthan had a meeting with him and then proceeded to their official vehicles.

There, they were in for a surprise. Waiting for each of them in their vehicles were two cartons of books, with a bill that their drivers handed over:

Rs 68,383 for 19 copies of the Governor’s biography, titled Nimitt Maatra Hoon Main (I am just a medium), in hardcover coffee table format. One additional copy of the biography was for free.

“In the meeting with the Governor, someone took the names and numbers of our drivers. We thought it was perhaps to give them food and water,” a V-C, who did not wish to be named, told The Sunday Express, expressing surprise at how the whole thing was done.

Once they reached their homes and offices, a V-C says, another surprise awaited them. While the bill given to them listed five titles, the cartons only contained copies of the biography.

The bill, accessed by this newspaper, says the 19 books were charged at Rs 3,999 each, which adds up to Rs 75,981. After a discount of 10 per cent, the total comes to Rs 68,383.

The biography, which has been co-authored by Mishra’s long-standing OSD Govind Ram Jaiswal, states that proceeds from the sales will be spent on research projects on Rajasthan and social science, and will not be used by any person for personal gain.

“The rules for procurement are clearly laid out in the Rajasthan Transparency in Public Procurement (RTPP) Act, 2012. How can universities be loaded with these books in such a unilateral manner? The state’s 27 universities specialise in fields such as technical, health, agriculture, veterinary, law etc. Why does each university have to foot the bill for so many books, and under what head will we bear the expenses?” a V-C asks.

Asked about the manner in which the biography copies had been handed out, Subir Kumar, Secretary to the Governor, said the V-Cs were talking “rubbish”. “It is incorrect and baseless.”

The biography details Mishra’s long association with the RSS, followed by the Jana Sangh and BJP, and carries a foreword by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Its back page has reviews by President Ram Nath Kovind as well as former PM Manmohan Singh, who terms it a “shandaar kriti (wonderful work)”.

On page 116 is a photo of Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, with the BJP’s symbol lotus in the background. The text says: “Let us support the movement to build a ‘New India’. Join the party and strengthen our hands in this mission. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.”

A V-C says this is against the propriety of the Governor’s post. “The Governor has indeed been associated with the RSS and BJP since long but it is indecorous of the Chancellor’s office to propagate his former party,” the V-C says. A state’s Governor is also the chancellor of its universities.

Asked about contents in the biography that seem to support the BJP, the Governor’s Secretary said, “Those who have written the book should know. I have not written it, I have not read it.”

Another V-C, however, says there was nothing wrong. “I have not looked at the book. But if a book has been written about the honorable Governor, then it should reach the universities, though their rate can be a different issue. (As for the contents) Mishra has become a Governor only now, it is about his entire life.”

The bills to the V-Cs give the bank account details of the International Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (IIME), Jaipur, implying that it be paid for the copies. The co-author with the Governor’s OSD of the biography is Dr D K Taknet, who has been associated with the IIME since long. The “lead researcher” on the book is Taknet’s wife Sujata Taknet, who is also associated with the IIME.

The IIME defines itself as “an autonomous body and non-profit organisation” and a “national level research institute which is a scientific and industrial research organisation of the Ministry of Science and Technology”.

A V-C asks how “a research organisation under the Ministry of Science and Technology is publishing a coffee table book on the Governor as science research”.

Incidentally, two books mentioned in the bill presented to the V-Cs, Jaipur: Gem of India and The Marwari Heritage, had been sent by the IIME to state universities back in January 2020. As many as 25 copies each of the two books were sent to universities, asking them for Rs 4,950 and Rs 3,200 per copy, respectively. The total came to Rs 2,03,750.

Mishra’s biography had been launched by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and among those present were Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who is an MP from Rajasthan, and Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi.

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