Kolkata: The Bengal cabinet passed a unanimous proposal to make the chief minister the chancellor of state universities instead of the governor.
A bill to this effect would be introduced in the state assembly, Bengal education minister Bratya Basu said. The state may choose the ordinance route if there was “a delay from Raj Bhavan in giving assent to the bill passed by the assembly,” sources added. Basu first broached the issue on December 24 last year in the backdrop of strained relations between governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
There has been no reaction from Raj Bhawan to the decision. According to the governor’s official website, Dhankar is the ex-officio chancellor of 17 universities in Bengal. A TMC leader said the decision was taken because Dhankhar, in his capacity as chancellor, had been raising questions on the selection of vice-chancellors which was the prerogative of the state government.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted sharply to the cabinet’s decision. “Mamata Banerjee wants to have all powers in her own hands. This is one such move in that direction. She wants to run an authoritarian regime where nobody can question her actions. This is a tactic to divert people’s attention from burning issues,” said Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.