Kolkata: A group of renowned personalities of West Bengal have expressed discontent over the appointment of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as chancellor of state-run universities, arguing that the move will “deal a blow” to the varsities’ autonomy and is against the spirit of democracy.
They also said the decision of the state cabinet ignores the long-standing demand of people to have an eminent educationist in that post.
“We are surprised and stunned over the recent decision to appoint the chief minister as chancellor of state universities. We all know about the imperatives of autonomy and freedom of educational institutions, and such a decision will deal a blow to that, and is against the spirit of democracy,” they said in a statement on Saturday.
Among the 40 signatories are actor Kaushik Sen, directors Anik Dutta and Raja Sen, painter Samir Aich, thespian Bibhas Chakraborty, social activist Miratun Nahar and rights activist Sujato Bhadra.
If an educationist is appointed to that post, it will prevent outside interferences in the running of the institutions, they said.
Since coming to power, the present regime has been putting up its own people to run primary and secondary education boards, school managing committees and governing bodies in higher educational institutions, the statement claimed.
“The decision to appoint the education minister as the ‘Visitor’ of private universities is also fraught with the similar danger of meddling into their affairs,” it said.
“I am opposed to this appointment, as much as we are against the practice of the governor becoming the chancellor,” Kaushik Sen told PTI.
The government is likely to move a bill in the ongoing monsoon session of the assembly with regard to the cabinet decision to replace Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with the chief minister as the chancellor of state-run varsities.
An amendment bill to remove Dhankhar as the ‘Visitor’ of private universities in the state and appoint Education Minister Bratya Basu in his place is also expected to be tabled during the session.
Meanwhile, secretary of ‘Save Education Committee’ Tarun Naskar said educationists would gather outside Calcutta University campus on June 13 at 2 pm to protest the move.
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