Drama unfolds at Kerala University Senate meet, interim VC slams Minister for meddling

An altercation broke out between the Higher Education Minister R Bindu and the interim VC, Mohanan Kunnummal during the Senate meeting. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Tensions escalated at Kerala University on Friday during a Senate meeting summoned to nominate a representative for the search committee responsible for finding a new vice-chancellor. An altercation broke out between the Higher Education Minister R Bindu and the interim VC, Mohanan Kunnummal.

The argument began when the minister proposed to defer the nomination process, as the CPM was of the view that there was no need to suggest a name as the Bill passed by the Assembly to change the structure of the search committee is under the President's consideration.

Bindu, who is also the pro-vice-chancellor came to the meeting to clarify this position. It is not customary for the higher education minister to attend a Senate meeting. When the minister stated that her motion was passed, opposition members demanded a discussion on the motion, leading to a dispute. When the interim VC contradicted the minister's claim over the resolution, a heated argument erupted.

The VC pointed out that he was the chairman as he summoned the meeting and that the minister had no right to preside over the meeting or read the agenda. Even though the minister said the meeting was adjourned, the opposition members protested and refused to leave.

While the Governor's nominees suggested M K C Nair to the search committee, the opposition proposed M C Dilip Kumar, the former VC of Kalady University. It is not clear whether this will be handed over to the Governor by the VC.
The Governor had earlier informed that if the VC does not hand over the name, he will proceed with the appointment process on his own. In Kerala University, the Governor has nominated 17 people to the Senate, but the High Court has stayed the appointment of 4 people. Of the remaining 13, 11 belong to the BJP. UDF has 12 Senate members. All the 13 nominated by the Governor attended the meeting.

Bill gone for President's assent
Members of the LDF say that the bill passed by the legislature changing the composition of the search committee to select the VC is under the consideration of the President and the Governor's refusal to sign this bill has been questioned by the Supreme Court. In this situation, LDF is of the view that a representative of the university need not be nominated to the search committee.

The LDF members had opposed and defeated the VC's official resolution to have a representative in the agricultural university. The High Court has ruled that the Senate representative should be selected within a month in Kerala University. The VC is bound by this.

The governor's representatives told the media that though they tried to pass the resolution, it was not passed. They also stated that the minister had interfered in the process illegally. The opposition members also stated that other resolutions cannot be passed in a single agenda meeting and claimed that the chairperson had passed the resolution illegally.

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