Amid the confrontation between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over the appointment of Vice Chancellors (VCs), the Punjab government may soon follow Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government to install the Chief Minister as the Chancellor of all state universities instead of the Governor.
Sources said the AAP government may soon introduce a Bill seeking to replace Governor Banwarilal Purohit with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann as the Chancellor of all state-run universities.
After Purohit on Tuesday asked CM to remove Satbir Singh Gosal as Vice Chancellor (VC) of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, as his appointment was “without following UGC norms and approval of the Chancellor”, the AAP criticised the Punjab Governor – who is the chancellor of PAU – decision as “completely unconstitutional and illegal”.
AAP Punjab’s chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said as per Section 15A of the Punjab and Haryana Agriculture Act 1970, the authority to appoint the VC of Punjab Agriculture University rests with the Board of Management of the University and not with the Governor.
The Board of Management does not require any permission from the Chancellor (Governor) to appoint a VC. The Governor can neither appoint nor remove the VC of PAU.
Kang said Purohit is working at the behest of the BJP and he is deliberately interfering in the day-to-day functioning of the government. The governor is doing this with the aim of defaming the AAP government, he added.
Kang told the Governor that if he wants to do politics, then should officially contest the elections on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) symbol. “Do not disrespect the dignity of the post of Governor. Kang appealed to the President of India that the Punjab Governor is acting as a political agent of the BJP, so he should be sacked immediately,” he said.
Earlier, Purohit declined to clear the appointment of cardiologist Gurpreet Wander as Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) Faridkot. Dr Wander later withdrew his candidature from the post and also requested the government not to send his name in the panel of three candidates for the VC’s post as directed by the Governor.
The CM, Bhagwant Mann, had announced Dr Wander’s appointment as VC of BFUHS on Twitter on 30 September. The post of VC was lying vacant for the past two months after Dr Raj Bahadur resigned from the post.
The Governor, who is the Chancellor of the BFUHS also, had returned the file for Dr Wander’s appointment saying the government violated the rules by recommending only one name for the VC’s post.
While denying differences between the state government and Governor of Punjab, Mann had said the Punjab government has cordial ties with the Governor.
Earlier in September, the Governor had withdrawn an order summoning a special session of the Punjab Assembly on 22 September to table a confidence motion citing rules.
Later, he also questioned the government about the business it wanted to take up in the legislative Assembly. Following this, the Mann government had to summon the session of state Assembly on 27 September to discuss “various issues” pertaining to Punjab. While the Opposition parties had welcomed the decision, AAP leaders, including the CM had criticised Purohit calling it an attack on democracy.