Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to request the resignation of vice chancellors of nine universities has sparked a massive political storm in the southern state, with Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issuing a stern warning to the head of the constitution on Monday has asked not to exceed the limits of his powers. Meanwhile, the ruling LDF announced two-day state-wide protests starting on Tuesday. Amid mounting tensions between the Raj Bhavan and the left-wing government, Khan, using his powers as chancellor, has made startling statements to the vice chancellors of nine universities after refusing to send him their resignation letters before 11:30 a.m. on Monday. according to his directive on Sunday. The vice-chancellors have until November 3 to respond.
The “unusual steps” initiated by Khan also sparked a legal battle with eight vice chancellors who contested the chancellor’s move in the Kerala Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held a special hearing Monday night, despite it being a holiday for Diwali, and ordered that the vice chancellors continue to hold their respective positions and that they could only be removed after following the proper procedure. Judge Devan Ramachandran, hearing the urgent plea of the eight vice chancellor, said the communication sent by the chancellor was not correct.
The court noted that since the chancellor gave the vice chancellor until November 3 to demonstrate reasons why they should not be impeached, the notice requesting resignation lost significance. In their pleadings, the VCs told the court that the chancellor’s entire move to ask them to resign within 24 hours was illegal, if not rogue. Khan justified his actions against the vice-chancellor in a news conference, saying the notices were issued to uphold the Supreme Court’s decision, which has declared any vice-chancellor nomination “null and void ab initio.” the Search Committee, which was constituted contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulation.
Read | Kerala governor sends notices on cause of show to VCs of 11 universities after they refused to resign
“Now they have refused to resign. Now formal notifications have been made,” Khan said. The governor also dismissed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s allegations that the VCs have been denied natural justice.
“I have only suggested an honorable way out. I didn’t fire them,” the governor said. Earlier, Prime Minister Vijayan held a press conference in Palakkad lashing out at Khan for demanding the resignation of vice-chancellors and saying the governor has no such powers.
The CM accused Khan of acting contrary to the constitution and the essence of democracy, alleging the governor’s move violated the powers of a democratically elected government and the universities believed to be academically independent. Vijayan called the governor’s move “unusual” and accused him of “waging war” with the intention of “destroying” the universities in the state.
“It was the governor who appointed the VCs of these nine universities and if these appointments were made illegally, the primary responsibility rests with the governor himself,” said the Chief Minister, adding that the chancellor does not have the authority to resign. to ask. Returning to Vijayan, the governor said that if one indulges in cheppadividya (juggling), a dose of small pippidi (tricks) is needed.
“If you indulge in cheppadividya… then it has become imperative to give a dose of pippidi,” the governor told a news conference. The governor used the colloquial Malayalam terms to respond to the Chief Minister in response to Vijayan’s use of “pippidi” in his earlier speeches targeting Khan.
Later, at a public meeting organized by the CPI(M) in Palakkad, Vijayan continued his attack on the governor, claiming that Khan could not go beyond his constitutional powers. “You have powers and privileges while you hold the office of governor. You must function within the scope of those powers. You can’t go an inch beyond that limit. You have constitutionally derived powers. Those powers are very clear that you have to function according to the advice of the state government,” said the Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF announced a two-day statewide protest against the governor starting tomorrow, accusing him of operating in accordance with the RSS’s directive. In a statement, LDF Covenant EP Jayarajan said Kerala was making progress by vigorously championing the Sangh Parivar’s agenda to take over the higher education sector. “Strong opposition to such a move to destroy Kerala’s education sector must come from all people who love the state,” the LDF convener said, calling for a broad popular movement against the Raj Bhavan’s alleged action against the universities. Meanwhile, disagreements have arisen within the Congress-led UDF over the issue, with one section taking sides with Khan and another against the LDF government.
While AICC Secretary General KC Venugopal said the action by the governor of Kerala was the latest attempt by the central government to intervene in the higher education sector across the country in violation of democratic and constitutional values, it claimed senior congressional leader Ramesh Chennithala that the governor had requested the resignation of the VCs based on the Supreme Court ruling. “The UDF stands by its view that the appointment of the VCs in the universities of the state is political appointments,” said Chennithala. Opposition leader VD Satheesan also echoed almost the same voice broadcast by Chennithala. However, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a key partner in the UDF, criticized the governor’s actions.
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