Fresh row over talk of replacing Dhankhar as varsities Chancellor

You make Chief Minister the Governor, he retorts to Education Minister’s tweet

A couple of days after suggestions were made that he should be replaced from the titular post of Chancellor of State-run universities in West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday lashed out at the State government.

The State’s Education Minister Bratya Basu had tweeted on Friday that there was need to “introspect” on whether the State needs to continue with the colonial legacy of Governor being ex-officio Chancellor of all State-run universities and eminent scholars should be appointed instead. He had later suggested to newspersons that the Chief Minister should be made interim Chancellor.

“I was astonished that the Education Minister, who should have interacted with me, instead said that the Chief Minister will be made Chancellor,” Mr. Dhankhar said after landing at the airport here on a week-long visit to north Bengal.

“You make the Chief Minister the Governor also in addition to making her the Chancellor,” he said sarcastically, terming Mr. Basu’s stance as inappropriate.

Mr. Dhankar had earlier called a meeting of Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of private universities in the State in his capacity as Visitor on December 18. However the meeting had fallen through as most heads of universities had excused themselves. An attempt to hold the meeting on December 23 also fell through, and the Governor had taken to the social media to vent his ire.

An earlier attempt by him to call a meeting of Vice-Chancellors or executive heads of State run universities had also ended without any bothering to attend.

Governor Dhankar has had several run-ins with the State Government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on a number of issues and the row over his attempts to exercise his powers as Chancellor.

‘Assent not given’

Mr. Dhankar also reiterated that he had not given his assent to the Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, adding that a submission made by the State Advocate General before the Calcutta High Court to this effect may be erroneous.

“There is no paper, letter, discussion, consideration before the Governor with regard to bifurcation of Howrah Municipal Corporation and creation of Bally municipality,” he said. The Governor had earlier said that he had sent back the Bill, for excluding areas of erstwhile Bally municipality from Howrah Municipal Corporation, on November 24 with queries which were yet to be answered.

“It is wrong for the Advocate General to submit before the High Court that the Governor has given assent to the Bill,” he said. State Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee on Friday told the Cclautta High Court that the Governor has given his assent to the Bill, paving the way for holding separate elections to the two bodies.

Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy however said that the State had sent its reply to the questions raised by the Governor regarding the Bill which was earlier passed in the West Bengal Assembly.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh however charged that the Mamata Banerjee government is trying to turn the Governor into a rubber stamp.

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