Guv seeks explanation from Kannur VC over appointment of CPM leader's wife

Priya Varghese
Priya Varghese is the wife of K K Ragesh, the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has sought an explanation from the Vice Chancellor (VC) of Kannur University over the alleged irregularity in the appointment of the wife of a senior CPM leader.

VC Dr Gopinath Ravindran has been asked to file an explanation immediately as to the allegation that rules were flouted for the appointment of Dr Priya Varghese as associate professor in the Department of Malayalam.

Priya is the wife of K K Ragesh, the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He is also a former Rajya Sabha MP.

A controversy had erupted after Priya was awarded first rank in an interview held for the recruitment in November just before the term of the VC was extended. Though the appointment was put on hold following the controversy, the syndicate of the Kannur University has approved the appointment last month.

The extension of Dr Gopinath's term as VC had also stirred up a controversy after the governor, who is also the chancellor of the state varsities, raised objections to it. It was alleged that the term was extended as a kickback for facilitating the appointment of the CPM's leader's wife.

Following the controversy, the VC sought legal opinion, including that of the advocate general. Though the interview for the post was completed on November 18, 2021, the appointment was delayed since the varsity waited for the advocate general's advice.

After teachers' associations had opposed the appointment earlier, the VC initially sought legal opinion from the university's standing council before approaching the advocate general.

The short-list for the appointment of associate professor had six names, including that of Priya. Prof Joseph Skariah of SB College in Changanassery was second in the list.

The move to appoint Varghese became a controversy after the Save University Campaign Committee questioned the varsity considering Faculty Improvement Programme (FIP) duration as part of the required teaching experience. The controversy gathered further steam following the re-appointment of Prof Ravindran as the VC.

Countering the Save University Campaign Committee's argument, the university pointed out that several teachers had been appointed as associate professors after the FIP period was considered as part of their teaching experience.

The varsity argued that the University Grants Commission guidelines had not clarified that FIP could be considered while making appointments to teaching posts.

Priya, who started her teaching career as a teacher in Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, currently has been on deputation to the Bhasha Institute as its assistant director.   

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