WB Governor says education system in state ‘politically caged’

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Kolkata: The education system in West Bengal is ‘politically caged”, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Thursday, a day after most vice chancellors of state universities skipped a meeting called by him, and asserted he will seek an explanation for their absence. His threatened move may set the stage for yet another confrontation with the state government.

Dhankhar had convened an online meeting with the vice chancellors to discuss the academic situation amid the COVID- 19 pandemic on Wednesday. Barring one, all vice chancellors had stayed away.

Dhankhar told reporters he will also ask the VCs, who were absent, about the academic problems being faced by students because of the outbreak of the disease.

“I find there is tightening of this political cage in the education scenario in West Bengal,” he said, apparently referring to most VCs staying away from the meeting.

“I wanted to fathom the problems the universities and colleges are facing by calling a virtual meeting of VCs which they opposed tooth and nail for the reasons known to all,” he said.

Amid frequent run-ins with the governor, the West Bengal government had recently amended the relevant rules relating to the powers of the governor as the chancellor of universities.

The new rules have vastly reduced the governor’s role in the functioning of universities.

Under the fresh set of rules, all communications between the governor and the universities have to be routed through the higher education department.

“Can education department and VCs self-proclaim they cannot be commanded by a chancellor? Are they not accountable? When they become accountable?” Dhankhar said, voicing displeasure over the absence of the VCs from the meeting.

“The saddest elements in their entire gamut is that they completely forgot the students crisis amidst the pandemic,” he said.

He, however, placed the blame for the absence of the VCs on the state government.

Insisting that he had shown “utmost patience” while dealing with the vice chancellors, who he treated as “my family”, Dhankhar said the “unwholesome situation was created by the state government”.