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Governor ignores state panel for Besu

The governor has struck down a state government panel for interim vice-chancellor at Besu and asked the higher education department to extend the incumbent’s tenure by six months.

Vice-chancellor Ajay Ray’s tenure ends on February 28. Department officials said an order extending Ray’s term by six months would reach the Shibpur university on Monday.

The panel the government had sent to M.K. Narayanan, also chancellor of the university, had three names — Avijit Chakrabarty, vice-chairman of the state higher education council, Sudakshina Kundu, a computer science professor at the West Bengal University of Technology, and a physics professor at Kalyani University.

The higher education department expected the governor to select one of the three as interim VC, preferably Chakrabarty, a physics professor at Besu, as his name topped the list.

But the chancellor’s office last Wednesday asked the department to extend Ray’s term by six months, during which a search committee would come up with a shortlist of candidates for the post.

“We had sent feelers so that Chakrabarty is selected. We did not expect the chancellor to apply discretionary powers in the appointment of an interim VC,” said an official in the department.

Chakrabarty had served as interim VC at Jadavpur University last year.

The higher education department had got into a showdown with the governor last July when he resisted intense lobbying to get Chakrabarty appointed as VC despite his name not figuring on the shortlist prepared by a search committee.

The chancellor selected Souvik Bhattacharya, an IIT Kharagpur professor, for the post. A miffed higher education department sat on the governor’s recommendation for close to three weeks before announcing the name.

Officials said Chakrabarty, as vice-chairman of the higher education council, had pushed for the common entrance test for postgraduate courses at all state universities — a pet project of the government.

He is also keen on introducing academic audit at the universities to keep a tab on teachers’ performance, said an official.

Soon after Trinamul came to power, Chakrabarty was made a member of the expert committee set up to suggest ways to improve the standard of engineering education.

Asked about the governor’s order to extend his tenure by six months, Ray told Metro: “It is a commitment to my alma mater. It’s a commitment to excellence. Besu will go from strength to strength in pursuit of excellence.”

The chancellor, during last year’s convocation at Besu, had lauded Ray for stopping violence which had once become quite regular on the Besu campus.