regular-article-logo Thursday, 07 December 2023

Bengal row over varsity appointments: Governor strikes back at minister with 'stroke of midnight' ultimatum

Speaking to reporters on Friday education minister Bratya Basu accused the Governor of 'intimidating' registrars of state-aided universities, forcing them to abstain from a meeting convened by him

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 09.09.23, 06:08 PM
CV Ananda Bose and Bratya Basu

CV Ananda Bose and Bratya Basu File

A sharp retort from Governor CV Ananda Bose on Saturday, indicative of his initiation of dramatic steps in the state’s higher education sector in his capacity as Chancellor of state-run universities by the end of the day, with respect to Bengal education minister Bratya Basu’s statements made a day before set the rumour mills rolling on Saturday.

Asked to respond to minister Bratya Basu’s remark made on Friday where he accused the Governor of acting arbitrarily and unilaterally on the lines of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, the despot from the Middle Ages, Bose remarked: “I am glad that I am acting. Wait for the stroke of the midnight hour today. You will see what action is (all about).”


Bose’s comment suggested more announcements, perhaps even more dramatic than the controversial appointments he has given so far, is likely to follow before midnight.

The minister too, took to social media to debunk the Governor statements and obliquely called him “new vampire in the town”.

“ 'See till midnight, see the action' BEWARE! BEWARE! BEWARE! New Vampire in the town! Citizens please watch yourselves. Eagerly waiting for the 'Rakkhas Prahar', according to Indian Mythology," Basu’s statement, sarcastically quoting the Governor’s remarks but without mentioning his name directly, read.

The war of words marked a new low in the state-governor relationship which has sharply declined in the last month or so over the Chancellor’s appointments of stop-gap vice chancellors across state-aided universities leading to not just sharp responses from the state higher education department and even state-aligned former vice chancellors, but also from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, where she threatened Bose of holding a dharna before the Raj Bhavan gates.

Speaking to reporters on Friday the minister accused the Governor of “intimidating” registrars of state-aided universities and forcing them to abstain from a meeting convened by him.

Only 12 registrars out of 31 attended the meeting on Friday, after Bose had accused the education department of “threat/intimidation” that allegedly forced five officiating vice-chancellors handpicked by him to resign.

“He is making these allegations and is trying to act like a saviour of Bengal, a new messiah of sorts. But he is acting with impunity when it comes to indulging in nepotism, partisan acts and insulting the mandate of the people of Bengal. At the same time he is acting like a good human, and trying to flaunt his Bangla speaking skills by pointing fingers at the state government by taking cues from a teleprompter,” the minister said, perceptively referring to a video statement from the Governor, parts of which were spoken in Bangla, where he vowed to end “corruption in higher education institutions”.

“I had initially thought this would be his temporary whim. I didn’t realize he would act like (Muhammed Bin) Tughlaq. I thought he would act like (Alauddin) Khalji and his temporary ventures. I didn’t anticipate he would become a Tughlaq,” the minister had said.

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