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Want governor to continue as chancellor: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The chief minister was reacting to Khan’s letter in which he expressed his desire to quit as chancellor. Khan had alleged that he was under pressure to do things in "total violation of rules and procedures".

By: Express News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: December 13, 2021 5:41:57 am
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (File)

Days after Governor Mohammed Arif Khan sought to step down from the role of Chancellor of universities citing pressure to do things in “total violation of rules and procedure”, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said there was no plan to take away these powers from Governor Khan.

Vijayan was responding to a letter Khan wrote on December 8 alleging political interference in the state’s universities and asking the CM to take over the role of Chancellor of universities.

Addressing the media in Kannur on Sunday, where he was attending a CPI(M) district conference, Vijayan said, “The chancellor’s post is not one coveted by us. We want the Governor to continue as the Chancellor. We haven’t taken away his rights. I assure that the government would not take away the legitimate powers of the Governor as chancellor. I hope that the Governor would not stick to his stand (stepping down as chancellor). Misconceptions can be sorted out through discussions.”

Hours after the Chief Minister made clear the government stand on the issue, Governor Khan told the media in Delhi that “I stand by my decision (to quit as chancellor). I request them to bring an ordinance and amend the University Act. You can become the chancellor… You do whatever you want to do. I decided to quit as chancellor as I wanted to avoid a conflict with my government,” he said, adding that he did not want to send any message to the Chief Minister through the media.

Vijayan added that an open confrontation with the Governor was not the government’s policy.

Refuting Governor Khan’s allegations of political interference in the state’s universities, Vijayan said, “neither this LDF government, nor the past LDF regimes tried to interfere in the functioning of universities. The relationship between the government and the Governor is very cordial. There was not even a word or deed hurting the governor from the government’s side.”

“The government, at any stage, has not forced the Governor to commit to something against his conscience. Communicating the government views with the Governor is routine process. It is up to the Governor to take decisions on communication from the government… At the same time, the government does not want to dodge any decisions fearing criticism from some quarters,’’ he added.

With regard to the appointment of vice-chancellors (V-Cs) in universities, Vijayan said Khan was free to state his opinion. “The campaign that ‘Chief Minister and other ministers are behind every decision’ is baseless. There have been concerted efforts to take back the government’s attempt to give a new perspective for the higher education sector. It is regrettable that the Governor is giving statements which would add fuel to such efforts. A person holding a Constitutional post should not have taken an approach which would encourage the forces that do not want to see Kerala surging ahead,” he said.

He also dismissed allegations that political nominees were being given V-C posts. “V-Cs are appointed as per UGC guidelines. After the Governor wrote the letter on December 8, the Government has given due consideration for the concerns aired by him and had communicated to him the government stand on the issues.’’

In his letter, Governor Khan had mentioned that the re-appointment of Kannur University V-C, Prof Gopinath Ravindran, had made him uncomfortable. To this, Vijayan responded saying it was not proper on the part of the Governor to reject his own order. “The denunciation of his own decision at this stage may be due to political reasons,” Vijayan said.

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