Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress in Kerala on Tuesday stepped up its attack against Higher Education Minister R Bindhu over her alleged intervention into the re-appointment of Dr Gopinath Raveendran as Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University, saying it was an "infringement" upon the authority of the chancellor and the autonomy of the varsity.
Noting that the minister had no moral right to continue in the office as she violated the constitutional norms and the oath of office, the party leadership wanted her to resign at the earliest.
If she was not prepared to quit, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should be ready to remove her from the cabinet, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan urged.
While meeting reporters at Paravur in Ernakulam, Satheesan lashed out at Bindu and said the minister had the right to act only within the framework of the constitution, but she has crossed the limit by sending a recommendation letter to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Chancellor of the university, seeking Raveendran's re-appointment.
"By sending such a letter, she infringed upon the authority of the Chancellor and the autonomy of the university. The act was completely illegal and in violation of UGC guidelines and university laws. So, we strongly urge Bindhu to resign as minister at the earliest," he said.
He also targetted Vijayan saying the CM, who claimed to have made no illegal intervention in the re-appointment of Raveendran, was hoodwinking the people of the state.
Chennithala, who on Monday had released a copy of the Bindu's purported letter to the Governor seeking re-appointment of Raveendran for a continuous term from November 24, 2021, reiterated that her act amounted to 'corruption' and 'nepotism'.
"Who gave her the power to write such a letter to the Governor? Recommending the continuation of Raveendran as vice chancellor was a thanksgiving act for the appointment of the wife of the Chief Minister's private secretary in the same university," he alleged here.
The senior party leader was apparently referring to the recent appointment of Priya Varghese, wife of KK Ragesh, the private secretary to Vijayan, as an associate professor in Kannur University, which triggered a controversy.
Chennithala also said he already entrusted a lawyer to move a petition against the Higher Education Minister in this connection to Lokayukta.
Meanwhile, police used water cannons to disperse the Youth Congress activists who took out a protest march to the Kannur University over the issue.
Later, a number of YC activists, who tried to cross the barricade, were arrested.
The Minister's letter to the Governor came to the fore a day after Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that universities in Kerala are headed by people who are well versed in the field of education and that the Vice-Chancellors are appointed by search-cum-selection committees as per UGC norms.
The CM had also claimed that his government has never asked the Governor to do anything against his conscience and apprising him of the government's views was a natural communication at the administrative level.
In the letter to the Governor, the Minister, who is also the Pro-Chancellor of the university, allegedly requested him to cancel the notification appointing a search-cum-selection committee for identifying the person to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor.
The Higher Education Minister also allegedly said Ravindran's continuation would immensely benefit Kannur University and Section 10 (10) of the -Kannur University Act provides for the re-appointment of an incumbent Vice-Chancellor for a second term and does not stipulate any restriction on age.