Governor finds scant support from Satheesan

Opposition leader says D.Litt. controversy misleading

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan seems to get scant support from Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan in the simmering dispute between the Raj Bhavan and the government over university appointments and grants of honorary degrees.

Mr. Satheesan said Mr. Khan had acted unlawfully if he had indeed summoned the Vice Chancellor and asked the latter to award an honorary degree to "any person."

Mr. Khan had earlier suggested that political cronyism in university appointments lay at the heart of his decision to discontinue as Chancellor. The Governor revealed that he had flagged an issue related to "national dignity and prestige" in a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan detailing why he was constrained to stay away from his duties as Chancellor.

Chennithala’s stance

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had seized on the comment and asked the government to clarify whether it had denied an Honorary D.Litt. to President Ramnath Kovind. He also asked the administration whether the Sanskrit University Vice Chancellor had circumvented the Chancellor to award honorary degrees to three government nominees.

Mr. Satheesan said the Governor had rubber-stamped the government’s illegal decision to extend the tenure of the Kannur University Vice Chancellor beyond the retirement age. Later, Mr. Khan backtracked and purportedly claimed that Higher Education Minister R. Bindu had pressurised him to grant his imprimatur to the arbitrary decision.

D.Litt. row misleading

Ideally, Mr. Khan should have sought the Vice Chancellor’s resignation or ejected the latter out of office. The government had filed an affidavit in the High Court that the Kannur Vice Cchancellor’s appointment had the Chancellor’s approval. The High Court had issued a notice to the Governor. However, Mr. Khan seemed reluctant to give an affidavit that disputed the government’s testimony. Instead, he had forwarded it to the government.

Mr. Satheesan alleged that Mr. Khan had raised the controversy of denying Honorary D.Litt. to the President to "hide" from the real issue at hand and stay away from discharging his duty as Chancellor.

BJP slams Satheesan

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president K. Surendran has taken strong exception to Mr. Satheesan’s position. The State government had insulted the President by denying him an Honorary D.Litt. The administration had disgraced the State. Instead of holding the Chief Minister to account for the humiliation, Mr. Satheesan attacked the Governor. He said that Mr. Satheesan had acted as a member of Mr. Vijayan’s Cabinet.

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