West Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar said that universities in the state are not allowed to act the way they are supposed to while there is always a contest in the institutes as to who is a greater boss-the state government or the chancellor.

The governor was speaking during the ‘Education Forum 2019’ organised by the Merchant Chamber of Commerce today. “As chancellor, what I have seen is that we do not allow universities to act as they should be doing,” said Mr Dhankhar. “We always put a tag on them who is a greater boss-the state government or the chancellor. I studied the point and found that all universities in West Bengal are subject to a statute which is very clear on the roles of the chancellor and the state government. There is very little role for the state government, and much little for the chancellor. So, we must operate in our own areas rather than get into a competing scenario of who is a bigger boss.”

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been accused of meddling in the affairs of universities and tweaking statutes to ensure a greater say of the government in their running.

Mr Dhankhar’s statement comes a day after Miss Banerjee told the vice-chancellors of 28 universities at Nabanna not to bow down to pressure or come under any influence as they were heads of autonomous institutions. Miss Banerjee said that as universities are autonomous institutions, the VCs should not be influenced if there is an external interference. Officials said that Miss Banerjee’s instructions were aimed at cautioning them against “uncalled for interference” by the chancellor.

Earlier, Mr Dhankhar had called some of the vice-chancellors to Raj Bhavan and said that other than the chancellor, the vice-chancellors and the universities’ own bodies, “no one else” had the right to meddle in their affairs. Academics had then said that if the governor, the chancellor of state universities, got so involved in running the dayto-day affairs of a university, it could amount to “overreach”.

Meanwhile, taking a dig at the state government on the issue of the teachers’ pay scale, Mr Dhankhar claimed that the teachers are not being given their due in Bengal as per the UGC guidelines. “The teacher is not being given his or her due,” rued the governor. Recently, I faced a situation in the state of West Bengal in which what should be due to them as per UGC was not being made available. I had an outreach to Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) that catalysed the situation and those concerned have taken some step, while more is to be done.”

Congratulating the three institutes ~ Jadavpur University, Calcutta University and IIM Calcutta ~ for their recent rankings, Mr Dhankhar said, “I have invited everyone concerned- the university’s vice chancellor, pro-VC, the faculty members and the alumni on how Jadavpur University, gets the tag of an ‘Institute of Eminence.’ I am happy that the alumni have responded from all over the world.”

The governor, who has been at loggerheads with the state government on several issues in the recent past, expressed disappointment over news of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, urging the college and university teachers to come to the state government in case of any problems and not to listen to anyone else.

“I was somewhat upset by a news article today and had to tweet early morning,” lamented the governor. “Our only role is how we can help the educational scenario- first the environment on the campus and to assure what is due to the teachers must be available,” he added.

Mr Dhankhar, however claimed that he is not at war with the state government and his objective is to serve the people. “I have written to the state government, that the governors’ conference is round the corner. I wrote to the state government that if you have any issue with the central government, I will take initiative to take up the matter at the highest level.”

Addressing the academics, the governor said, “Your growth trajectory is hindered by those who are supposed to help you-the government the regulator and everyone. The Indian genius is being contained not by the human resource that can achieve hugely. I am sure that your deliberations would be very fruitful.”

Without naming anyone, Mr Dhankhar said, “You can depend on me to the extent that those who need to know about them will know it through persuasion or through little assertiveness.”