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President Pranab Mukherjee differs with Smriti Irani over JNU Vice Chancellor’s name

Although the President is under no obligation to follow the minister’s recommendation, sources said there are several precedents to show that this is the norm.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi |
Updated: January 29, 2016 8:24:46 am
pranab mukherjee, President Pranab Mukherjee, pranab mukherjee dadri lynching, president speech, pranab mukherjee core values, dadri lynching, pranab mukherjee news, indian president news, india news File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee.

President Pranab Mukherjee is learnt to have ignored Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s recommendation while appointing Prof M Jagadesh Kumar as the Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

According to sources, Irani had communicated her preference for scientist V S Chauhan to the President, out of the four finalists shortlisted by the selection committee for the post of V-C. But Mukherjee chose IIT-Delhi’s Prof Kumar. JNU professors R N K Bamezai and Ramakrishna Ramaswamy were the other contenders.

The Indian Express has learnt that this is the second time in the last four months that the minister’s suggestion for appointing a central university V-C was not accepted by the President. Mukherjee had also ignored Irani’s choice for Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad. Mohammed Aslam Parvaiz was appointed as MANUU’s head in October 2015.

Although the President is under no obligation to follow the minister’s recommendation, sources said there are several precedents to show that this is the norm.

Chauhan is a leader in malaria research and his contributions are in the field of malaria vaccine and drug development. He was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, by the UPA-II in 2012.

Kumar, who assumed office in JNU on Wednesday, has completed his Masters and PhD from IIT-Madras. He has worked in the field of nanoelectronic devices, nanoscale device modelling and simulation, innovative device design and power semi-conductor devices.

When contacted, President Mukherjee’s Press Secretary Venu Rajamony declined to comment. The HRD Ministry’s spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel did not respond to questions e-mailed by this newspaper on Wednesday seeking comment on the JNU appointment.

The appointment assumes significance against the backdrop of the HRD Ministry and the Rashtrapati Bhawan disagreeing over the sacking of Visva Bharati University Vice-Chancellor Sushanta Datta Gupta.

On September 22, 2015, the government had recommended Datta Gupta’s removal to Mukherjee as a probe found the V-C guilty of “gross misconduct” and “dereliction of duty”. The President’s Office, however, is learnt to have informally conveyed its unwillingness to do so. It wants the ministry to accept Datta Gupta’s resignation which he had e-mailed on September 30.

Mukherjee’s office had returned the file twice questioning the legality of the ministry’s recommendation. Irani’s department has sought the law ministry’s opinion again on the matter.

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