Kolkata (West Bengal): The West Bengal Private University Laws Amendment Bill, 2022, was passed without voting as the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party staged a walkout from the state Assembly.
The bill aims to replace the Governor with the state’s Education Minister as a ‘Visitor’ to private universities, intensifying the unprecedented face-off between Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
This comes a day after the West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which sought to replace Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the chancellor of all state-run universities.
The Bill, on Monday, was passed in the legislative assembly after 182 members voted in favour of the legislation and 40 against it in the 294-member Assembly.
Dhankhar has been a vocal critic of the Mamata Banerjee government over several issues, especially law and order. These bills are being seen as an attempt to curb the Governor’s powers.
The West Bengal Government after a Cabinet meeting, earlier this month, gave its nod to replace Governor and appoint Chief Minister as the Chancellor of all state-run universities under different departments like Health, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Minority Affairs Department.
The move drew criticism from the BJP with the Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari saying that he will take up this issue during his meeting with the Governor.
“Education comes under the concurrent list. I will meet Governor next Monday on the issue and will request to send it to Delhi (for the consideration of the President),” he said, alleging false voting in the assembly during the passage of the Bill.
Reacting to this, state Education Minister Bratya Basu said, “About the opposition, I have nothing to say. We have brought a Bill to change our Governor from the post of the chancellor only. We offered and suggested that Chief Minister will be the chancellor and the whole house accepted it. Now we are sending it to Governor.”
“Why can’t the chief minister be the chancellor of state universities if the Prime Minister is the chancellor of a central university, Visva Bharati? You can go through the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission,” he added.
According to the opposition, appointing the chief minister as chancellor would lead to direct “political interference” in the state’s higher education system. (ANI)