Bangalore: Karnataka, whose capital Bangalore is a major attraction for students across India for education, particularly engineering and medical courses, is to get 13 more private universities, taking their total to 15.
Once these universities are set up, Karnataka will be the third state, along with Himachal Pradesh, in the country to have 15 private universities.
Rajasthan has the highest number of private universities at 33, according to the data with the Universities Grants Commission, the central organisation that supervises university education in the country.
The second place goes to Uttar Pradesh with 18 while Gujarat with 13 is the other state with more than 10 private universities.
A row, however, has broken with the opposition Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) claiming that a huge kickback - around Rs.100 crore - changed hands to allow these 13 universities in the private sector to come up.
The state's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and the people setting up the private universities have not reacted to this allegation.
Two major students' organisations, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh's student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist's Students Federation of India (SFI), are also opposing universities coming up in the private sector and have threatened agitation.
The two students organisations want clear guidelines on the fee structure, reservations in admission for students from socially and economically backward sections of the society and government to have a say over running of these universities.
Both say the government has hurried through passing the bill without formulating proper guidelines to protect the interests of students from poorer sections of the society.
The nod for these universities also came in controversial circumstances.
The bills to allow them were passed by the assembly on the last day of its winter session on December 13 after the opposition Congress and the JD-S had walked out of the house over the government's refusal to extend the session by a day.
Both parties have now started attacking the BJP government headed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar for passing such important bills without proper discussion in the house.
Mr Shettar, however, is blaming the opposition, saying they did not want to participate in the discussion though government was keen on it.
The issue has reached the governor whose assent is essential for the bills to become legislation.
A JD-S delegation led by its state President and former Chief Minister HD Kumarswamy met Governor HR Bhardwaj in Bangalore on Friday and urged him to withhold assent to the bills since they were passed without discussion in the assembly.
The two private universities functioning in Karnataka are Azim Premji University, set up by IT czar Azim Premji of Wipro, and Alliance University.
The assembly has now given its nod for Manipal University, Arka University, Sharana Basava University, Adichunchanagiri University, Dayanand Sagar University, Vellore Technical University, M.S. Ramaiah University, Devaraj Urs University, Roy Technical University, PES University, Spiritual University, Reva University and KLE Technological University.