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Govt, governor face-off over VCs

Ranchi, May 8: Mild-mannered, sher--shairee loving Governor Syed Ahmed caused a furore by naming four vice chancellors and one pro-VC late last night, making chief minister Hemant Soren squirm and HRD minister Geetashree Oraon furious over selections based on a search committee’s recommendations.

In possibly the most open rift between Raj Bhavan and the 10-month-old Hemant Soren government, the governor’s seal on appointees led Geetashree to lash out about tribal stalwarts being ignored to make way for “outsiders”.

Geetashree, who even threatened to move court, added the chief minister did not approve the appointee list too. Under Jharkhand State University Act, 2000, the governor and chancellor of universities appoints VCs in consultation with the chief minister.

Yesterday afternoon, Hemant, acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty, governor’s principal secretary R.S. Poddar, CM’s principal secretary Sukhdev Singh and HRD secretary K. Vidyasagar, among others, met Governor Syed for some 90 minutes, offered alternative names.

They were former VC of Vinoba Bhave University R.N. Bhagat, anthropologist Karma Oraon and Ranchi University psychology professor Shahid Hasan, among others.

Raj Bhavan nixed these.

Instead, it chose ISM-Dhanbad environmental science professor Gurdeep Singh as the VC of Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribagh; Ranchi University Academic Staff College director R.P.P. Singh as the VC of Chaibasa-headquartered Kolhan University and Patna’s AN College-based economics professor K. Ahsan as the VC of Sido-Kanhu Murmu University, Dumka.

A.N. Ojha, pro-VC of Nilambar-Pitambar University in Daltonganj, is its new VC.

With Ojha’s new position, the chair of Nilambar Pitambar pro-VC lies vacant. Raj Bhavan sources said Ojha joined as Nilambar-Pitambar varsity VC today while others would follow suit. BIT-Mesra registrar A.P. Krishna is the new VBU pro vice-chancellor.

Raj Bhavan issued a formal media communiqué on its names around 6.30pm today, hours after it was clear to all that the state was unhappy.

“I personally don’t accept the list. It did not have the chief minister’s consent, too,” Geetashree told The Telegraph. “We may move court against Raj Bhavan’s move. In a similar case, Bihar government got a favourable ruling against Raj Bhavan,” said Geetashree.

She attacked the search committee constituted last year, saying the government was not consulted even then.

The panel comprised high court judge D.N. Patel, then chief secretary R.S. Sharma, former Ranchi University VC A.A. Khan and the governor’s principal secretary Poddar.

“Where are the tribals?” Geetashree asked, again.