A few words of praise for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have eventually cost Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi his coveted job as vice chancellor of Darul Uloom, Deoband, widely recognised as India's leading Islamic seminary.
A decision to terminate his services was taken by the Majjis-e-Shoora, the Governing Council of Darul Uloom at a meeting that concluded at Deoband Sunday noon.
"Darul Uloom Majlis-e-Shoora has resolved to terminate the services of Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi with immediate effect", acting vice chancellor Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani told mediapersons in Deoband, about 400 km from Lucknow.
However, the decision came even after the three- member inquiry committee appointed by Majlis-e-Shoora to go into the charges against Vastanvi, held him "not guilty."
Accused of making certain charitable remarks for Modi and his quality of governance, the Deoband vice chancellor was initially compelled to tender his resignation from the prestigious position following large scale violence and demonstrations that rocked the Darul Uloom campus in January.
Even as a strong pro-Vastanvi lobby stood up for him, and he too sought to emphasise that he never gave Modi any clean-chit for the latter's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, Deoband governing council decided to appoint a three member inquiry committee to go into the charges.
In its report submitted to the governing council Sunday morning, the three- member committee went in Vastanvi's favour.
"While two members of the committee opined in favour of Vastanvi's continuance as vice chancellor, one of the members gave a dissenting note against him", said a Darul Uloom official.
However, the 14- member Majlis-e-Shoora remained sharply divided on the issue. After a debate on the issue, while five Shoora members voted in favour of Vastanvi, the majority of nine preferred his ouster.
"Maulana Vastanvi has not only been voted out by the Majlis-e-Shoora, but he had promised to step down anyway", claimed Maulana Nomani, who declared himself as the new full time vice chancellor.
"I have assumed the full time office of vice chancellor with effect from Sunday after Vastanvi's exit", he claimed. Vastanvi was however very clear that he had not stepped down.
"Let me make it loud and clear that I had never promised anybody that I would step down; I was always very explicit that I would abode by the decision of the three-member committee and the Shoora; what surprises me is that despite the committee granting me a clean-chit, the Shoora has chosen to arbitrarily, do away with my services", he told mediapersons.