Political tug-of-war clouds selection process for Kerala University's new Vice-Chancellor

The varsity's senate is unwilling to appoint a nominee to the selection committee, which they say was constituted unilaterally by the Governor
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan | (Pic: Express)
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan | (Pic: Express)

The process of appointing the new Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala University seems to be heading towards a stalemate, with the KU Senate unlikely to propose its nominee, sources told TNIE. 

The special session was convened after Governor Arif Mohammed Khan sent repeated letters to the incumbent VC VP Mahadevan Pillai, to convene the senate session and choose a nominee. However, politics seems to be interfering with this process. The varsity's senate is dominated by members of the state's ruling alliance, the Left Democratic Party (LDF). The senate had passed a resolution on August 20, that it cannot choose a nominee until the two-member search-cum-selection committee constituted 'unilaterally' by the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the varsity, is disbanded. 

“Even though UDF (Congress-led United Democratic Front) members may suggest a nominee, it is unlikely to be accepted given the brute majority the LDF enjoys in the senate. The vice-chancellor too is unlikely to act against the majority opinion,” a source told TNIE. And therefore, the senate is likely to reiterate that it cannot select a nominee until the search-cum-selection committee is disbanded at the special session as well.

The university rules prescribe that the search-cum-selection committee to select a new VC must consist of nominees of the Chancellor, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the varsity senate. The first two members were added to the panel by Governor Khan on August 5 and he had then asked the varsity to propose its nominee as well. In fact, the Governor has repeatedly written to the incumbent VC to convene the session to select the nominee. While the varsity had been putting it off up until now, citing its resolution from August 20, it has finally agreed to convene the session to evade any disciplinary action against the VC, sources told TNIE. 

What happens next?
Incumbent VC Pillai's term ends on October 24 and the two-member panel appointed by the Governor has time until December 5, plus a one-month extension, to select a new VC. If the varsity's senate doesn't recommend a nominee, then the Governor's office might go ahead and select a new Vice-Chancellor without a senate nominee in the committee. And if a new VC is not selected by October 24, the Governor will then direct the Vice-Chancellor of another state university to hold additional charge of KU. Alternatively, a senior professor of the university can also be given a temporary charge until the VC is selected. 

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