Published: 24th October 2022
Governor's order for resignation of 9 VCs in Kerala sparks political battle; LDF plans protests
Kerala's Chief Minister Vijayan has said that the move by Governor AM Khan was an encroachment on the powers of a democratically-elected government
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan seems to have kicked up a political storm after he sought the resignation of the Vice-Chancellors of nine universities in Kerala. The state's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, October 24, lashed out at the Governor and alleged that Khan's move was an encroachment on the powers of a democratically-elected government and the universities that are supposed to be academically independent.
According to a report by PTI, Vijayan said it was an unusual move and accused him of "waging war" with an intention to "destroy" the universities in the state. "It was the Governor who appointed the VCs of these nine universities and if these appointments were made illegally, then the primary responsibility lies with the Governor himself," the Chief Minister said, adding that the chancellor has no authority to seek their resignations.
Armed with a recent Supreme Court order quashing the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University in Palakkad for being contrary to the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, Khan on Sunday, October 23, sought resignations of VCs of nine varsities in the state. The Raj Bhavan said that as the Chancellor of universities in the state, Khan issued directions for the resignations to reach him by 11.30 am on Monday.
Protest in the works
Now, the ruling Left Democratic Front has said it will discuss ways and steps to strip the Governor of the powers of the Chancellor of universities in the state. A protest is also being planned by the ruling party against Khan in front of the Raj Bhavan on November 15. This comes after Khan's threat of sacking ministers if they made critical remarks against him, reported TNIE. “The Governor makes big claims thinking that he possesses powers that he actually doesn’t have. His claim of sacking ministers is just boasting. He is exceeding his brief and the higher education sector is the worst hit by his action,” Communist Party of India (CPI) State Secretary Kanam Rajendran said, according to TNIE.
The authority to review and pass orders to rectify flaws, if any, in the functioning of the universities, including the appointment of the VCs, solely rests with the courts, Kanam said. “The governor need not act as if he is the court,” he said. Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) State Secretary MV Govindan added that Chief Minister Vijayan is likely to attend the protest planned at Raj Bhavan on November 15. Protests will be conducted at the district level as well and in front of colleges and university centres before November 12, reported TNIE.
LDF will also convene a state-level convention of educational experts on November 2. The front has primarily alleged that Khan is trying to ensure the entry of his nominees from the Sangh Parivar into the state’s universities. It has said the governor’s unauthorised stance on Vice-Chancellors’ appointments and others would adversely affect the higher education sector which has been “making great strides.” The state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) K Surendran, on the other hand, has decried LDF’s move to hold the protest.