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Kerala Governor seeks special Assembly session to remove him from chancellor post

Governor indicts govt for interference in varsity matters

Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan on January 4 suggested that the government could convene a special session of the Assembly to divest him of the charge of Chancellor of Universities.

Speaking to reporters in Kochi, Mr. Khan denied that his recalcitrance to discharge duties as chancellor had precipitated an administrative crisis in varsities. "The solution is very easy. They [government] can call a special session of the Assembly. They can appoint the Chief Minister as chancellor. Or else, let the government bring an ordinance for the purpose. I will immediately sign it.", he said.

Serious issue

Mr. Khan said, "something definitely has happened" which made him decide that he did not want to continue as chancellor. "But I won’t discuss the issue because it involves national institutions", he said.

In what seemed to be a reference to his contentious decision, purportedly at the behest of the government, to endorse the extension of the Kannur University vice-chancellor beyond the retirement age, Mr. Khan said: "You do something in the day. Then you go home, and your conscience pricks you. You decide I am not going to continue my job. Something serious has happened. Constitutional propriety must be respected. And, that is the reason why I do not want to discuss those very, very serious issues publicly".

No power tussle

Mr. Khan pointed out that conflict often happens when there is a power tussle. "Here, I am not asking for power. I am saying that it has become difficult for me to work as chancellor. Please make some alternative arrangement.", he said.

Mr. Khan said "something not ordinary serious, but very serious" had influenced his decision to stay away from the chancellor’s duties. He said the situation made him feel "frustrated, angry, sorry, shocked and silent".

Sealed lips

When asked to shed more light on the said " situation", Mr. Khan said: "My lips are sealed. I shall not discuss matters that lowers the dignity of national institutions".

Mr. Khan appeared to be referring to the question regarding a purported proposal by Raj Bhavan to award an honorary D. Litt to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.

Congress, BJP posers

Last week, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had asked Mr. Vijayan to clarify whether the government had turned down the governor’s request.

Bharatiya Janata Party Leader and Union Minister of State of External Affairs, V. Muralidharan, had asked Mr. Vijayan to clarify why the government had deemed President of India, Ramnath Govind, ineligible for an Honorary D.Litt. Mr. Vijayan should make plain if Mr. Kovind’s birth in a Dalit family were disqualifying, he said said.

Indicts government

The governor seemed to indict the government for impinging on the autonomy of varsities. Mr. Khan said the Assembly had made him chancellor through an act of law. "And I see every day that the very persons who passed the law are breaking it. There is interference at every step. I am given responsibility, but then impeded from discharging my duty", he said.

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