Demand on varsity valid: CM

Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said he had every right to demand that Patna University (PU) be made a central university.

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 17.10.17

Patna: Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said he had every right to demand that Patna University (PU) be made a central university.

"PU has a special position not only among students and teachers, but in the public mindset too. The people of Bihar and those connected to the state want that its status should rise. So we demanded central university status for it. It depends on the Centre to accept or reject it," Nitish said.

His comments follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's sermon on Saturday on why the university should try and compete with the best instead of seeking central status. Modi's rejection of the demand at the varsity's centenary celebration event has prompted Nitish's detractors to say he was snubbed.

Asked if he saw Modi's statement as a snub and if all was well between him and the BJP, Nitish said journalists were free to interpret as they wish and he, being a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, believes in the freedom of the press.

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Nitish said the state government cannot be held responsible for the condition of universities. "Universities are autonomous and are not directly under the control of the state government," he said. "Our responsibility is limited to providing money to them. We provide a grant of around Rs 4,000 crore per annum to them. We also provide infrastructure related help."

He admitted it was necessary to improve the educational standard in universities in the state and said the process of the appointment of teachers was on.

The chief minister said the state government gives money to the universities on time on the condition that they will prepare the academic calendar and stick to it, but sessions were inevitably delayed. "The PU session during our time was 16 months late. Academic sessions in universities in Bihar are always late," Nitish said.

"The recruitment of university teachers is being done by the Bihar Public Service Commission, though it is delayed. We have already constituted a University Service Commission for the purpose by enacting a law and it will start functioning soon," Nitish said.

He said students take admissions in colleges in large numbers but hardly attend classes; instead, they attend professional courses and coaching classes.

"The condition is such that we need to seriously think of how to improve higher education in the state," Nitish said. "We will provide whatever help that is needed for it."