Governor behaving like a ruffian: Bengal education minister

KOLKATA: The conflict between Bengal government and governor reached yet another flashpoint on Tuesday, with state education minister Partha Chatterjee accusing Jagdeep Dhankhar of “intimidating” state varsity vice-chancellors with his “mastaan-marka kathabarta (ruffian-like demeanour)”.

“The governor is intimidating VCs, threatening institutional heads with punitive measures to make them follow his orders. Such mastaan-marka kathabarta does not behove the governor,” Chatterjee said.

The minister’s comments came after Dhankhar ordered VCs to directly communicate with him, even though the government had adopted rules, making it mandatory for universities to route all communication through the higher education department. Dhankhar being the governor is the chancellor of state varsities,

“All orders emanating from the chancellor be effected without delay and compliance duly reported. There has been lack of seriousness and omission by several VCs in performance of their functions under the applicable Act. Any laxity will entail consequences (in accordance with) the legal regime,” the governor’s order said, implying that state government rules cannot “override” the provisions of an Act.

Dhankhar’s order came after Ashis Kumar Panigrahi took over as the Burdwan University pro-VC following a higher education department directive that ignored the governor’s appointment of Gautam Chandra to the same post. “I joined office after I got an appointment letter from the higher education department,” Panigrahi said on Tuesday.

Dhankhar on Tuesday said the chancellor took suggestions from the state government and gave them “full consideration” but the power of appointment (of VCs and pro-VCs) rested with the chancellor in accordance with university statutes. Implicit in the statement was the view that consulting the state government might not always mean agreement. Dhankhar also took “strong exception” to Chatterjee’s remark on Monday that the governor had appointed a “BJP man”.

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