In Mamata Banerjee vs Governor, Bengal's Fresh Move May Be New Flashpoint

The move is likely to draw a fresh battleline between Mamata Banerjee, who also heads the ruling Trinamool Congress, and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar

Bengal wants to make Mamata Banerjee Chancellor of all state universities

Kolkata:

Mamata Banerjee's government in West Bengal has decided to introduce a bill in the assembly to make the Chief Minister - and not the Governor - Chancellor of all state universities in Bengal.

The move is likely to draw a fresh battleline between Ms Banerjee, who also heads the ruling Trinamool Congress, and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who the state's ruling party leaders have accused of working with the centre to harass the Mamata Banerjee government on key issues.

"Today, the state cabinet gave its consent to the proposal to make the Chief Minister the Chancellor of all state-run universities in place of the Governor. This proposal will soon be introduced as a bill in the assembly," Bengal Education Minister-in-Charge Bratya Basu said.

By law, the Governor is the Chancellor of 17 universities in the state, according to the Bengal Raj Bhavan's official website. Some of them are University of Calcutta, Jadavpur University, University of Kalyani, Rabindra Bharati University, Vidyasagar University, University of Burdwan and North Bengal University, among others.

For Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, the Governor is the Pradhana, or Rector, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Chancellor.

In January this year, Mr Dhankhar alleged that Vice Chancellors of 25 state universities in Bengal were appointed without his consent.

The Mamata Banerjee government, however, claimed the Governor should have approved the names of the Vice Chancellors selected by the search committee, and if he refused, the Education Department has the power to go ahead with its decision.

The Bengal government has said the "colonial legacy" of a Governor being ex-officio Chancellor of all state-run universities should be reviewed, and instead scholars should be appointed.

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