Kerala Governor in no mood for compromise. Dares the CM for the second consecutive day

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with Governor Arif Muhammed Khan. File photo: Manorama

For the second consecutive day, Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan made it clear that he would not review his decision to step down as Chancellor unless he was given "fool-proof guarantee that there will not be political interference in universities".

The Governor also made it clear that by "review" he did not mean that he would "resume" his work as Chancellor. "If fool-proof guarantees are given, I will review my decision," he said. The Governor has also directed his staff to redirect all files related to Universities to the Chief Minister's Office.

Once again the Governor dared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take over the post of Chancellor after divesting him of the authority. "You have the power to amend the Act. I have already said this. The Assembly is not in session, so bring an ordinance and I will sign it immediately," he told reporters in Delhi on Sunday.

"I have been watching with great pain for the last two-and-a-half years. If you want the vice chancellors to do your bidding, do it yourself. Don't use me," the Governor said.

When he was asked why he had approved the reappointment of the Kannur VC if it was against his 'better judgment', the Governor said that he went out of his way to avoid a fight with the government. He sounded as if he was seriously hurt by the strong words used by the Chief Minister against him in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) issue.

In August 2020, when the Kerala Government had moved the Court against the Centre's CAA Act, the Governor found this offensive as it was done without taking his permission. To this, the Chief Minister had said that the "era of residents was over".

Khan said that he let the government have its say in the reappointment of the Kannur VC so as not to provoke the government. "If I had put my foot down, they would have called me a resident. I did not want to be in a state of perpetual fight with the government," he said, and added: "I tried to accommodate them, but have also told them not to go beyond a point. Now they have gone beyond the limit."

The Governor said that the only solution was for the Chief Minister to take over as the Chancellor of universities. In the case of the Kalady Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, he said he was given only one name.

"There were seven applicants, all of them highly qualified. But I was given just one name. I then asked what happened to the other six and I was told they were all incompetent. I was in effect being told that highly qualified teachers produced by our system were not good," the Governor said.

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