The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra on Monday hit out at Governor BS Koshyari for being in favour of conducting final year university exams in the state, and said health of students cannot be put at risk amid the COVID-19 crisis.
An editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece ''Saamana'' said when the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has already opposed holding exams in Gujarat and Goa in the current scenario, why is Mr Koshyari's demand in contrast to it.
"Is it because the RSS-backed BJP is not in power in Maharashtra?" the Marathi daily asked.
Mr Koshyari, who is the chancellor of universities in Maharashtra, last week asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to resolve the issue of conduct of final year university exams in the state "without any further delay in the larger interest of students".
In a letter to Chief Minister, Mr Koshyari said "not conducting the final year examinations by universities amounts to breach of the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines".
The governor also took strong objection to a letter written by state Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant to UGC, recommending cancellation of final year exams.
Mr Koshyari asked Mr Thackeray to issue suitable instructions to Mr Samant for his "unwarranted intervention".
Defending Mr Samant, the Sena said the minister had expressed his opinion about the examinations, but Mr Koshyari's stand is to go ahead and conduct the exams.
"The RSS-backed students' wing ABVP has already opposed holding exams in the current period in Gujarat and Goa. Then, why Koshyari's demand is in stark contract with ABVP. Is it because the RSS-backed BJP is not in power in Maharashtra?" the Uddhav Thackeray-led party wondered.
These examinations are important for the future of 10 lakh students in the state, but it cannot be held by jeopardising their health, it said.
"When almost all institutions are stretched to limits, how can the governor expect universities to overcome the challenges (of COVID-19) and hold exams?" it asked.
The governors concerns are genuine, but when students have returned home even from abroad, how can he expect exams to be held here for students of local universities, the Marathi publication said.
Major cities of the state like Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, where headquarters of prominent universities are located, are still under the grip of COVID-19, it noted.
"There is no point in pushing the demand for conducting exams at such a time," it added.
The Sena had earlier also criticised Mr Koshyari when he did not act on the Maharashtra Cabinet's recommendation in April to nominate Uddhav Thackeray as member of the state Legislative Council from the governor's quota.
Mr Thackeray was eventually elected unopposed to the Upper House earlier this month.