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Posted at: Aug 23, 2019, 7:36 AM; last updated: Aug 23, 2019, 7:36 AM (IST)

Union Minister courts row at Senate meeting

Says if Article 370 can go, PU governance can be restructured too

Amarjot Kaur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 22

A war of words, bitter bickering and petty politics amid heated tempers assumed importance over academic issues at the PU Senate meeting today, which was attended by over 75 members, including MP Kirron Kher, Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash and Punjab Minister of Higher Education Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa.

In his first Senate meeting, the Union Minister courted a controversy when during his maiden speech, he made a sharp statement on Article 370 while commenting on the functioning of the university. 

Soon after RS Jhanji, a PU Fellow, called for “governance reforms” at the PU and Bansal elaborated on the Panjab University Act of 1947 to highlight the rules regarding appointment of the Dean, Student Welfare (DSW), Som Parkash, while talking about restructuring the university, said, “If the current government, as soon as it garnered 300 (seats in Lok Sabha), can remove Article 370, then Panjab University’s governance and structure can be restructured too.”

His statement drew a backlash from Punjab Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa. 

“We aren’t scared of your threats. If you respect the brute majority there (in Parliament), why don’t you respect our majority here,” he asked. 

“The Vice-Chancellor, when it comes to giving extension to the DSW (Men), the DSW (Women) and the Assistant DSW, is not allowing the House to vote. He has not even given any name as recommendation for the post jointly with the Syndicate, as it should have been done in accordance with the PU Act. This is a clear indication that he wants to kill the Senate in one stroke,” he added.

Agitated over the issues, Bansal said, “This is absolutely undemocratic and against the PU calendar and the PU Act. What kind of a precedent is the VC setting?” 

Bansal took to Twitter to express his resentment with the PU authorities. “Panjab Varsity Senate meeting today reflects shameless fall to abyss of profanity in edu institutions. VC, unable to grasp laws governing @OfficialPU but loyal to His Masters, butchered democracy & contemptuously declined vote sought by preponderant majority only to shoot & scoot,” he posted on social media.

Earlier, MP Kirron Kher said, “I do not attend PU Senate meetings because they make more noise and do less work.”

PU Fellow Sandeep Singh Sikri retaliated to the Union Minister’s comment too. “In my understanding, Som Parkash hinted at stripping the PU of its Senate and Syndicate, which are testimony to its democratic functioning, just as his party ripped J&K of its special status. This is not J&K; this is Punjab, Panjab University,” he said.

Prof SK Sharma, a senior PU Fellow, said, “The PU constitution is 100 years old and truly democratic. The VC has to uphold the dignity of the university constitution. He is its custodian.”

One of five new nominees skip meet

Following a notification published in the Gazette of India by the PU Chancellor, also the Vice-President of India, wherein five new senators have been appointed, including two BJP ministers, only four attended the Senate meeting. Prof Raj Kumar Bhatia, senior vice-president of the Antar-Rashtriya Sahyog Parishad, missed his first meeting. Other new Senate nominees are Union Minister Som Parkash, Rajinder Bhandari, former vice-chairman of the Punjab Planning Board, Anilesh Mahajan, senior editor of a national magazine, and Amita Rishi, former member of the Punjab Public Service Commission. They have been nominated as PU fellows “with effect from August 17, 2019, to October 31, 2020,” reads the notification.

Panjab Varsity Senate meeting reflects shameless fall to abyss of profanity in edu institutions. VC, unable to grasp laws governing @OfficialPU but loyal to His Masters, butchered democracy & contemptuously declined vote sought by preponderant majority only to shoot & scoot — Pawan Kumar Bansal


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