CM to Replace Governor to be Chancellor of State Varsities, West Bengal Assembly Passes Bill

The West Bengal assembly has passed a bill to make the chief Minister Mamata Banerjee the chancellor of state-based universities. Usually, the position is held by the governor of a state. The bill was passed amid opposition by the BJP legislators.

This system was first proposed in 2010 by Punchi Commission, however, it caught heat last year amid tensions between the governor and Chief Minister. There were earlier allegations that the State government was making appointments of vice-chancellors on its own; ignoring the chancellor (governor).

State education minister Bratya Basu, after introducing The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the House. Basu said that there was “nothing wrong” in chief minister taking over as the chancellor. “Why can’t the chief minister be the chancellor of state universities if the Prime Minister is the chancellor of a central university- Visva Bharati? You can go through the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission… The governor, who is the present chancellor, has violated protocols on various occasions,” Basu was quoted as saying by PTI.

The bill was passed after 182 members voted in favour of the legislation and 40 against it in the 294-member Assembly. Opposing the bill, the opposition BJP alleged that appointing the chief minister as chancellor would lead to direct “political interference” in the state’s higher education system.

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“The state government wants to control everything. The decision to appoint the CM as chancellor of universities is being taken to facilitate direct interference of the ruling party in the state’s education system,” BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul alleged.

Several states including Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also replaced governor with Chief minister as the head of state-run univeristies.  Last month, Stalin said that this is not a rare phenomenon, and the Gujarat government too holds the power to appoint vice-chancellors in state-based universities.

— With inputs from PTI

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