Home / News / India /  Kerala Guv vs CM Vijayan: Now Arif Khan says 'won't allow erosion of state varsities'' autonomy'

A day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's remarks on alleged nepotism in appointments in the state varsities' remarks, the later said the state government cannot be given the power to appoint vice chancellors of universities as it would amount to ‘executive interference.’

“Underqualified and unqualified people, just because they are related to the personal staff of the Chief Minister, cannot be allowed to be appointed," Khan said while addressing a press conference on 17 September.

Khan was of the opinion that state varsities belong to the people of Kerala and not to those who are dressed in “little brief authority" If somebody is qualified. He added that those people are most welcome and as far as qualified persons are concerned, there cannot be any objection to them.

“The government cannot be given the power to appoint the vice chancellors. I am saying it clearly this will amount to executive interference," Khan said.

ALSO READ: Kerala Chief Minister attacks Governor over university appointment row

Hitting out at the Kerala government, Khan said, “And now they are proposing that they will appoint the Vice Chancellor. That would mean erosion of autonomy of the educational institutions. As long as I am here, I will not allow the erosion of autonomy of the universities."

What is the issue?

The tussle between Kerala Government and Governor revolves around the controversial bills – passed by the State Assembly – pertaining to curtailing the powers of the governor since he chancellor in the appointment of vice-chancellors in universities. 

It all started with the Governor attacking the Left Government since the Kannur University's move to appoint Vijayan's Private Secretary's relative in a teaching post there.

Also, on September 1, the government had passed University Laws Amendment Bill despite stiff opposition by UDF members and their subsequent boycott.

On August 30, the Pinarayi-Vijayan government passed another bill – Lok Ayukta (Amendment) bill – to curtail the powers of the state Lokayukta. Both the bills would require he governor’s approval.

In September only, the Kerala Assembly had passed the University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022, which would result in curtailing the powers of the governor as chancellor of state universities. To which the opposition had alleged that the CPI-M government was trying to appoint “puppets" of the ruling party in key posts in varsities.

Apart from this, the state government passed the Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill, 2022, diluting the powers of the anti-corruption body.

What did Pinarayi Vijayan said?

The Chief Minister urged the Governor to keep the decorum of the position he holds. Reacting to Khan's allegations, he asked, "Is this what is meant by the position of a Governor?"

Terming as "absurd" the Governor's statement, Vijayan said his government has so far avoided a confrontation with Khan on the issue. "We have not taken a position so far on this issue. But a stage has reached where the limit has been crossed", the CM said.

What's the reaction?

On being lashed out by CM Vijayan on the varsity appointments issue, Khan said he was happy that Vijayan was at least not trying to play the game from behind the curtain now and came out with a statement openly.

"I am so happy that the Chief Minister has come out openly. He has given this statement. I welcome his statement. Because now at least he is not trying to play the game from behind the curtain. Now instead of using proxies like Irfan Habib...like some Vice-Chancellors whom he asked to defy the orders of the Chancellor, at least now he has come out openly," the Governor said.

With PTI inputs. 

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