Jorhat, Sept. 18: Dispur has decided to reintroduce the provision of including politicians and public representatives (legislators) in governing bodies of the state’s provincialised colleges.
Director of higher education P. Jidung stated this in a directive issued recently to all provincialised colleges asking the governing bodies to include local legislators as permanent invitees.
Unlike the seven state-owned colleges in the state, which are run directly by the government, provincialised colleges are administered by governing bodies.
Along with his directive, Jidung attached a letter issued by the deputy secretary (higher education) R. Hazarika stating that presidents of governing bodies of provincialised colleges should invite local legislators to participate in their meetings as permanent invitees. “The GB (governing body) presidents may also be requested to seek all possible assistance, including financial aid, wherever necessary from available and untapped sources and other resources within the discretion of the MLAs,” Hazarika stated.
The deputy secretary had added that “a legislator could play an important role” in maintaining a proper academic environment and smooth running the general administration of a college and also in discharging the social responsibilities of the institute.
The development assumes significance because the Tarun Gogoi government, after coming to power in 2001, had discouraged appointment of legislators in the governing bodies following a strong protest by All Assam Student’s Union (AASU).
Sources in Dispur attributed the move partially to the rift within the CLP, with members belonging to the anti-Gogoi camp alleging that they were being taken for granted by the babudom. Moreover, cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is leading the anti-Gogoi camp, heads the education department. “The new directive could be a way of keeping the MLAs in good humour,” a source said.
Last year, the government had asked the colleges to include legislators in construction committees of buildings built using funds sanctioned by the government.
Opinion on the development is clearly divided, because many have welcomed the move, asserting that a college had a lot to gain by involving the local legislator in its affairs, from managing development funds to fast-tracking important decisions by securing government approval. “The deputy secretary’s letter endorses this view,” a source said.
Assam College Teachers’ Association president Rana Sangmai said they would react only after getting a copy of the directive.
Jorhat legislator and former president of Jorhat College governing body Rana Goswami told The Telegraph that the move to include public representatives in the governing bodies was a positive step, as legislators were involved in social work and could contribute towards the progress of the institute. “An MLA, being a public representative, should be given the opportunity to serve the public in whatever way possible,” Goswami, who is also an AICC secretary, said.