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Kurien purge: Silent sequel

Ahmedabad, Aug. 5: After Verghese Kurien, it is the turn of his loyalists to be shown the door.

In the past two days, five senior faculty members known to be supporters of the “milkman” of India have resigned from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA).

Kurien had been forced to step down from IRMA and, before that, from the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation by his rivals who are led by Amrita Patel, once his most-trusted protégé.

Now, professors L.K. Vaswani, Haribandhu Panda, Vishwa Ballabh, S.B. Biswas and associate professor Smitha Mishra Panda have put in their papers.

Haribandhu Panda and Ballabh have also resigned from the board of IRMA, almost a year before their two-year terms were to end.

Kurien, when contacted today, chose not to comment. “After I resigned, I’m not concerned what happens in the institute,” he said.

Vaswani had been appointed acting director of IRMA by Kurien in 2004, after he had sacked K. Pratap Reddy, who was close to Patel. Following the change of guard at IRMA in June, when Patel took over as interim chairperson, Vaswani was axed from the post but continued as faculty member.

Neelima Khetan, who took over from him as acting director, has accepted all five resignations, sources said.

Ballabh and Haribandhu Panda were Kurien’s nominees on the board.

One of the five professors confirmed that they had put in their papers, but asked not to be named.

However, Hasmukh Shah, a board member and Patel-camp member, said he was not aware of the resignations.

“After Kurien resigned, we had decided that there will be no witchhunt in IRMA. But if some faculty members have any apprehension and they feel that they should go, it is a different thing and we cannot stop them.”

The former NID chairman said the board has not served notice to any faculty member. If anyone intends to resign, it will be known only on Monday when the board meets to finalise the name of the new chairperson, he added.

Shah is in the running for the post.

Sources said a board member had recently called up the professors and asked them to leave the campus.

Earlier, Kurien’s executive assistant P.A. Joseph was sacked from the marketing federation. Another loyalist, R.N. Ghatak, has left the National Cooperative Dairy Federation.

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