Guwahati, Sept. 27: Gauhati University was thrown into turmoil today after the resignation of vice-chancellor Amarjyoti Choudhury in protest against the government’s alleged indifference towards the cash-strapped institution.
Choudhury sent his resignation letter to the Governor, Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh, last night.
An anguished Choudhury told the media today that he took charge of the university with a grand vision that started crumbling as the days went by.
The vice-chancellor said he had placed his vision plan, entailing an estimated expenditure of Rs 181 crore, before the government in the hope of transforming the university into one of the best institutes for higher education in the country.
“Unfortunately, things did not move an inch during the last 10 months of my tenure. The university is left with no funds for development. Rain damaged books in the K.K. Handique Library of the university recently because the roof of the building has been leaking. Things have come to such a pass that I do not have money to even plug these holes in the roof and save the books. Given the circumstances, I cannot continue as the vice-chancellor of this premier university,” Choudhury said.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had announced a Rs 25-crore one-time grant to the university during his Independence Day speech, but an “extremely disappointed” Choudhury said his office never received an official communiqué, leave alone the money.
A beacon of hope when he took over, the disillusioned vice-chancellor said Gauhati University lacked the facilities and infrastructure that a modern institute for higher education needed to have.
Choudhury said there was no point in him sticking around if the government could not come out with clear, time-bound plans to release funds for the development of the university.
The All Assam Students’ Union held the government responsible for his resignation and declared a statewide agitation from this weekend. AASU adviser Sammujjal Bhattacharyya said the organisation would take out torch-lit processions across the state on Saturday.
Education minister Ripun Bora tried to deflect criticism coming the government’s way by branding Choudhury as an “escapist”. He said the task of heading an institution of the stature of Gauhati University was a very challenging job and the vice-chancellor ought to have led from the front instead of taking the backdoor.
On whether it was not the government’s responsibility to keep the university in sound financial health, Bora argued that it was an autonomous institution and must generate revenue on its own. He said the Congress government raised the annual recurring grant to the university to Rs 20 crore, but its demand for Rs 181 crore was unreasonable.
The governor has not accepted Choudhury’s resignation yet.