Press Trust of India|Jun 22, 2023
Won't allow erosion of autonomy of state universities: Kerala Governor
The Governor accused the Left govt of preventing police from registering a case in the alleged attempt to attack him physically at the Kannur University.
KOCHI: The ongoing tussle between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the ruling CPI(M) escalated further on Saturday with the former making it clear that the state government could not be given powers to appoint vice chancellors even as the Left party charged Khan with unleashing 'false campaigns' against the dispensation.
When the opposition Congress sought the intervention of the Centre and BJP to settle the growing differences between the state government and the Governor, the saffron party said Khan was discharging his duty by upholding the Constitutional values and attempts to silence him was not going to yield any result.
The Governor, who met the media here in the morning, accused the Left government of preventing the police from registering a case in the alleged attempt to attack him physically at the Kannur University during the recent History Congress in 2019.
But, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan soon called a press conference at the AKG Centre in Thiruvananthapuram to rubbish the charges, saying it was a sudden protest and there was no conspiracy behind it. He also targetted the Governor for "unnecessarily" levelling allegations against Kannur VC Gopinath Ravindran and eminent historian Irfan Habib in connection with the incident.
If the Governor has any evidence to prove his charges of conspiracy in it, let him release it and the party has nothing to cover up and is ready to make any clarifications in that, Govindan added. The Left leader charged that the attitude of Khan, who was supposed to act in accordance with the Constitution, was unbecoming of the position of Governor. Asking Khan not to try to "intimidate" them, the CPI(M) state secretary also said the people were aware of the developments.
Earlier, the Governor said that the state government cannot be given the power to appoint vice chancellors of universities as it would amount to 'executive interference.' Khan's statement comes a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at him for the remarks on alleged nepotism in appointments in the state varsities, calling it "absurd."
He said, "Under qualified and unqualified people, just because they are related to the personal staff of the Chief Minister, cannot be allowed to be appointed." A visibly fuming Governor said these institutions belong to the people of Kerala and not to those who are dressed in "little brief authority" If somebody is qualified, they are most welcome and as far as qualified persons are concerned, there cannot be any objection to them, Khan said. "The government cannot be given the power to appoint the vice chancellors...I am saying it clearly...this will amount to executive interference."
Khan said the CM had earlier written a letter to him in which he had assured that there would be no interference. "And now they are proposing that they will appoint the Vice Chancellor. That would mean erosion of autonomy of the educational institutions. As long as I am here, I will not allow the erosion of autonomy of the universities," he said.
Welcoming CM's comments on the varsity appointments issue, the Governor said he was happy that Vijayan was at least not trying to play the game from behind the curtain now and came out with a statement openly. "I am so happy that the Chief Minister has come out openly. He has given this statement. I welcome his statement. Because now at least he is not trying to play the game from behind the curtain. Now instead of using proxies like Irfan Habib...like some vice chancellors whom he asked to defy the orders of the chancellor, at least now he has come out openly."
Khan alleged that though there was an attempt to attack him physically at the Kannur University during the History Congress some time back, the police were prevented from registering a case. "What was the duty of the police? To register a case...who prevented the police from registering a case? Who held the home department? You are trying to denigrate, demean the office of the Governor. You have tried every trick in the box to pressurise me and to frighten me," he alleged.
Reacting to the war of words between the Governor and the government, KPCC Chief K Sudhakaran said the Centre and BJP, which heads the union government, have the responsibility to take initiative to resolve the issues, if there is any, between the duo. But, unfortunately, they were remaining mute spectators, he said while talking to media.
"The tussle between the Governor and the government has crossed all limits, and it is posing a threat to the democracy of our land," he claimed. Union Minister V Muraleedharan also came out in support of the Governor and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking a stringent stand against corruption and Khan was following suit.
"He is discharging his duty by upholding the Constitutional values. Do not try to silence him by threatening," he said. Meanwhile, Assembly speaker A N Shamseer expressed hope that the differences would be sorted out soon by the Governor and the Chief Minister themselves.
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