Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had on Saturday appointed Shanti Chhetry as the founding vice-chancellor of Alipurduar University against the “order of preference” of the search committee of the state government but Chhetry on Tuesday said that being a person of “honesty and integrity”, he could not take the position.
Chhetry, principal of P.D. Women College, Jalpaiguri, was the third on the list forwarded by the state government to Dhankhar for the VC’s post.
Mahendra Nath Ray, professor of chemistry, North Bengal University (NBU), and Sanchari Roy Mukherjee, professor of economics, NBU, were the first and second choices, respectively.
On Monday, the state higher education department appointed Ray as the VC of Alipurduar University through an order that stated Chhetry’s unwillingness to join the post.
The government overruled the governor’s decision stating the decision was in contravention to the provisions of rule 9 (d) of the West Bengal State Universities (Terms and Conditions of Service of the Vice Chancellors & the Manner and Procedure of Official Communication) Rules, 2019, while issuing the appointment letter to Ray.
The Telegraph had in its Sunday edition reported the governor’s omission of “order of preference for appointment” and his decision to act beyond providing a “formal nod” to the state’s proposal.
The decision to change the governor’s choice has stirred a hornet’s nest in the Darjeeling hills with a section of people accusing the government of denying Chhetry the VC post.
Pratap Khati, the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (Pratap group), said: “The decision smells of discrimination and that is why demands for a separate state is legitimate.”
Chhetry, however, clarified his stand of not taking up the post. “I felt my name is at number three (in the list). Generally, (the) number one should have got it (the appointment). For me, being a person of honesty and integrity, I did not want to be embroiled in any kind of controversy,” Chhetry told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Chhetry, who has been the principal of the Jalpaiguri college for the past 15 years, had earlier served as viceprincipal of St Joseph’s College (North Point).
Chhetry said he didn’t want anyone to raise their fingers at him. “I would have been happy if my name had been at number one. I thought being someone who has been in academics for such a long time, nobody should raise their fingers at me. That’s the only philosophy (behind the decision),” added Chhetry.
Along with Chhetry, the governor had also tweeted appointing Rajendra Prasad Dhakal, principal Kalimpong College, as the founding VC of Darjeeling Hills University.
Dhakal, too, was named third in the list of the search committee. Till date, there has not been any fresh development regarding Dhakal’s name.
Khati, however, said: “The state government should immediately issue an appointment letter to Dhakal.”