Thiruvananthapuram: Raising a serious allegation, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Friday said the University of Kerala refused to award President Ram Nath Kovind an honorary doctorate degree (D.Litt) following the state government's intervention. Chennithala claimed this was the root cause of the tussle between Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the state government.
State Higher Education minister R Bindu has denied Chennithala's charges.
Chennithala, the former leader of the opposition in Kerala Legislative Assembly, asked if the state government had any right to intervene in matters relating to honorary doctorates.
Chennithala's allegation comes amid Governor Khan's ongoing dispute with the Pinarayi Vijjayan-led Left government in Kerala. Khan has been staying firm on his stance that he would not continue as the chancellor of the varsities in the state.
Chennithala posed six questions to the government over his allegation pertaining to the D.Litt award. They are:
1. Did the governor, who is also the chancellor of the Kerala University, issue a directive to the vice-chancellor to take the steps to confer D.Litt on the President? If so, when was it?
2. Did the vice-chancellor refuse to follow the directive following government intervention?
3. Did the vice-chancellor seek the opinion of the government on the governor's directive instead of placing it before the Syndicate?
4. Does the government have any right to interfere in such matters relating to D.Litt award?
5. Did the vice-chancellor of Kalady University, whose term ended last month, submit a decision to the governor to confer honourary D.Litt on three people before his retirement? If so, when was it submitted? Whose names were recommended?
False charge: Minister
Kerala Higher Education Minister R Bindu rubbished the allegations made by Chennithala. “The state government has not interfered in the matter. It comes within the autonomy of a university to decide who should be conferred with a D.Litt,” the minister said.
Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said he was unaware of the allegations made by Chennithala.