Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has said he was not interested in any confrontation with the State government, but universities cannot be allowed to be mere departments of the ruling party and that the rule of law should prevail.
He made it clear that while everyone had the right to protest, no amount of pressure tactics will deter him from upholding the rule of law in the country.
Mr. Khan was responding to media queries in New Delhi on November 15 on a day when the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala organised a mass protest to Raj Bhavan against the former’s alleged trespasses on the autonomical jurisdiction of universities in the State.
Mr. Khan said he bore no ill will to anyone nor was he engaged in any personal fights. However, as the Chancellor of universities, since the last three years, he had been quite frustrated because of the interference from the government in university affairs on a daily basis, despite its assurances to the contrary.
The Governor said he was happy that both the Supreme Court’s and the Kerala High Court’s judgments had made it clear once and for all that none can interfere in the functioning of universities. “I am quite concerned about the future of the bright students of Kerala, most of whom are migrating to other States after Class XII in search of higher learning,” he said.
Mr. Khan added that during his interactions with students, he understood that they were leaving the State in pursuit of higher education because there was no course in Kerala which can be completed in less than five-and-a-half years. Such was the manner in which universities were functioning.
The universities in the State have become “the fiefdoms and property of the party cadre and their relatives,” said Mr. Khan.
“Kerala has had one of the most robust school systems since the past few decades. But the state of affairs in universities is dismal. In the words of the great scientist C.N.R. Rao himself, research in Kerala universities was at a standstill because no bright minds wanted to stay in the State. Such is the level of political and party interference in university affairs,” said Mr. Khan.
Referring to the Ordinance of the State government seeking to remove the Governor as the Chancellor of universities in the State, Mr. Khan asked the counterquestion whether the government seriously expected him to sign something which was clearly a violation of the recent Supreme Court order.