Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Saturday denied senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala's allegations that the Left-front government had rejected the recommendation from the governor to confer Kerala University's honorary D.Litt on President Ram Nath Kovind.
However, the state BJP trained its guns on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and sought an explanation from him in the matter.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said such matters should have been disclosed by the governor and not by a third party.
Chennithala had on Friday sought to know whether Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had recommended conferring the university's honorary D.Litt on President Kovind and whether it was rejected by its vice-chancellor on the directions of the state government.
"If there was any issue related to the D.Litt, then it should have been disclosed by the governor and not by a third person," Balakrishnan told the media.
However, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan on Saturday took a different stand from Chennithala and said "if the governor had inappropriately recommended anyone's name for D.Litt, then it's illegal".
"If the governor as the chancellor had asked the vice chancellor to award D.Litt to anyone, then it's a misuse of his official position. The issue has now been brought up to to deflect attention from other issues related to the varsities," Satheesan said.
Balakrishnan, however, denied the allegation that the party was against the recommendation to give a honorary doctorate to the president.
"It is not true that the party opposed the recommendation to give D.Litt to the president. The issue has not come before the party or the government," the senior CPM leader said.
Hinting that all is not well, the governor said, the other day, that a few decisions taken by the state government hurt the prestige of the country.
According to reports, the governor had called the VC to Raj Bhavan and asked the latter to grant D.Litt degree to the president. It was also given in writing by the president. Earlier, the university had accorded D.Litt degree to KR Narayanan when he was the President.
The VC had communicated to the Syndicate members the directive of the governor. It is understood that the VC and the Syndicate members interacted with the political executive. Later, the VC met the governor in person and gave a letter expressing reluctance to grant D.Litt degree to the president.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Saturday said the chief minister should clarify on the issue.
"Now people of the state feel like Kerala has humiliated the president of India. If such an incident has happened, then the government should openly admit it. The government should make it clear on what basis was D.Litt denied for the president of India. No one can interfere in the decision to confer D.Litt," Muraleedharan told the media.
"The incident is a shame to the state of Kerala. The Opposition Congress is siding with the government to humiliate the president. Instead of criticising the chief minister, the leader of opposition was attacking the governor. He is behaving like a member of the cabinet. Satheesan is the shield of Pinarayi Vijayan," BJP state chief K Surendran said.
Stating that it was the prerogative of the university to confer the honorary D.Litt, Chennithala had also alleged that the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government was unduly interfering in varsities' autonomous powers.
"It is learnt that the governor, in his capacity as the chancellor of the university, has recommended to give honorary D.Litt to the president of the country. But, we came to know that the vice-chancellor forwarded it to the government," he had said.
However, Higher Education Minister R Bindhu had on Friday rejected the charges and said the government had not rejected any recommendation from the governor in this regard.
(With inputs from PTI)