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Bengal VCs not included in UGC panel, says education minister Bratya Basu

Bengal: Bill passed to appoint education minister as ‘Visitor’ of private varsities

June 15, 2022

The West Bengal Assembly passed a Bill that proposes to appoint the education minister as the ‘Visitor’ of all private universities in the state, replacing the Governor, amid stiff opposition by BJP legislators.

The West Bengal Private University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by a voice vote, after opposition BJP MLAs staged a walkout, protesting against it.

The development comes a day after the assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to make the chief minister the chancellor of all state-run universities, replacing the governor.

The Bill passed in the assembly on Tuesday proposes to make the state’s education minister Bratya Basu as the ‘Visitor’ of 11 private universities in place of Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.

“There are so many private universities across the country. None of those have the Governor as the ‘Visitor’. As per recommendations of the Punchhi Commission, it has been clearly stated that to be able to discharge the constitutional obligations fairly and impartially, the Governor should not be burdened with positions and powers, which are not envisaged under the Constitution,” Basu said.

Referring to allegations of political interference by the state government, he said the charges are baseless.

“The Governor, who is the present Chancellor, has violated rules and protocols on various occasions. The claim that he is an apolitical person is not right. He is very active politically,” the minister said.

“The BJP’s politics involves propagating hate and violence. They are trying to tarnish the image of our state. For their vested political interests, they have sacrificed the interests of the people of Bengal,” he said.

The saffron party, meanwhile, claimed that appointing the education minister as the ‘Visitor’ would lead to direct political interference in the state’s higher education system.

BJP MLAs later told reporters that they would urge the governor not to ratify the bill.

“Passing these Bills are nothing but politicisation of the state’s education system,” BJP MLA Ambika Roy said.

The tussle over the administration of state-run universities is the latest flashpoint between the Mamata Banerjee government and Dhankhar, who has been in a turf war with the dispensation after assuming office in July 2019 over a host of issues.

In December last year, chancellors and vice-chancellors of private universities did not attend a meeting called by Dhankhar even after he rescheduled it.

“These developments are alarming and indicate rule of the ruler and not of law. Such a scenario cannot be countenanced, the governor had said.

Also Read: Bengal passes Bill to replace Governor with CM as Chancellor of state varsities

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