Cabinet nod for bill to replace gov with CM as chancellor of state varsities evokes mixed response

KOLKATA, 26 May: The West Bengal cabinet’s nod for introducing a bill in the assembly that would seek to make Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee the chancellor of state universities, replacing the governor, has evoked mixed response from educationists.

Some academicians have described the move as an infringement on the autonomy of the educational institutions, while there are others who said it would help foster better coordination between varsity heads and the government.

Amal Mukhopadhyay, the former principal of Presidency College (before it became a university) said the decision was “uncalled for” and would only “result in erosion of the autonomous status of a higher educational institution.”

“Effort to make her the chancellor is nothing but a political step. This may only vitiate the academic atmosphere in the institutions,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Educationist Pabitra Sarkar said the governor had been shouldering the chancellor’s responsibilities in this state for ages, and “now the West Bengal cabinet has taken a decision to reverse that.

“We don’t know the reason behind such move. Will it help in improving the academic atmosphere?” he wondered.

Noted historian and Indologist Nrisinga Prasad Bhaduri, however, welcomed the decision.

“Everyone knows that the chief minister is concerned about the academic development in West Bengal. It will be in the fitness of things to have someone who has a grasp on day-to-day matters on the campuses,” he added.

A VC of a state-run university, who did not wish to be identified, said that “this move will avert possibilities of rift between varsity authorities and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.”

Education Minister Bratya Basu said on Thursday, following a cabinet meeting, that a bill will “soon be introduced in the West Bengal assembly to make the CM the chancellor of the state-run universities,” in place of the governor. (PTI)