TMC Government Proposes to Replace Governor with CM as Chancellor of State Universities
NEW DELHI, May 26: A new flashpoint between the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal and the governor Jagdeep Dhankhar seems to be emerging with the Mamata Banerjee government’s reported decision to introduce a bill in the assembly to make the Chief Minister – and not the Governor – Chancellor of all the state universities.
The move is certain to launch a fresh war between Ms Banerjee, who also heads the ruling TMC and Dhankhar, a former BJP card holder, who the state’s ruling party leaders have accused of working at the behest of the centre to harass Mamata Banerjee and her government on key issues.
“Today, the state cabinet gave its consent to the proposal to make the Chief Minister the Chancellor of all state-run universities in place of the Governor. This proposal will soon be introduced as a bill in the assembly,” Bengal Education Minister-in-Charge Bratya Basu said.
By law, the Governor is the Chancellor of 17 universities in the state, according to the Bengal Raj Bhavan’s official website. These include the University of Calcutta, Jadavpur University, University of Kalyani, Rabindra Bharati University, Vidyasagar University, University of Burdwan and North Bengal University, among others. For Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan set up by the Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, the Governor is the Pradhana or Rector while the Prime Minister of the day is the Chancellor.
In January this year, Dhankhar had alleged that Vice Chancellors of 25 state universities in Bengal were appointed without his consent. The Mamata Banerjee government, however, claimed the Governor should have approved the names of the Vice Chancellors selected by the search committee, and if he refused, the Education Department has the power to go ahead with its decision. The Bengal government has said earlier that the “colonial legacy” of a Governor being ex-officio Chancellor of all state-run universities should be reviewed, and instead scholars should be appointed.