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Nitish takes on governor over VCs' graft charges

By M I KHAN
November 26, 2021 07:48 IST
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The Nitish government has increased pressure on Governor Phagu Chauhan to take action against the vice chancellors of two universities following allegations of corruption against them, reports M I Khan.

IMAGE: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan in Patna. Photograph: ANI Photo

Political developments in the last 24 hours not only exposed the rampant corruption in Bihar's higher education, it also exposed the growing differences between Governor Phagu Chauhan, who is a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The state government led by Nitish Kumar has increased pressure on Governor Chauhan to take action against the vice chancellors of two universities following allegations of corruption against them.

 

With zero tolerance for corruption as his policy focus, Nitish Kumar took serious note of the allegations of corruption against Lalit Narayan Mithila University (Darbhanga) Vice Chancellor S P Singh and asked the governor to order a thorough inquiry into the charges.

Kumar called on the governor on Wednesday, hours before Chauhan left for Delhi.

It was reported that Chauhan had been summoned to Delhi by the central government, strengthening speculation of mounting pressure on Kumar to take action against the vice chancellors.

Minutes before leaving for Delhi on Wednesday, Chauhan said he was not aware of the corruption charges against the two vice chancellors.

This was the first time that Chauhan broke his silence on the issue, saying, 'Main kuch nahi jaanta, jo aarop laga raha hai usise poochiye (I am not aware of the facts; ask those who are raising the allegations).'

Bihar Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said Nitish Kumar has rightly asked the governor, who is the chancellor of universities, to 'order an inquiry' into the 'serious' charges levelled by Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University VC Professor Mohammed Qudus against his predecessor, LNMU vice chancellor Singh.

Sources in the ruling party circles in Patna said the state government has informed the central government of how Governor Chauhan has been protecting the vice chancellors allegedly involved in corruption.

Earlier this week Professor Qudus complained directly to Nitish Kumar, levelling corruption charges against Singh.

However, ignoring the charges leveled against him, Govenor Chauhan selected Singh for the best vice chancellor's award on Monday.

Professor Qudus, who has often targeted Chauhan, is considered close to Choudhary and the ruling Janata Dal-United.

LNMU Vice Chancellor Singh, who was removed from the additional charge of VC of Patna's Pataliputra University on Wednesday by Raj Bhavan following the outcry, threatened to file a case against Professor Qudus for false and baseless corruption allegations that damaged his image.

Bodh Gaya-based Magadh University Vice Chancellor Rajendra Prasad, who was raided by the Bihar police's special vigilance team investigating charges of corruption against him last week, was granted medical leave on November 23 for a month by the governor.

Both cases have raised eyebrows over the governor's stand.

Sources in the higher education ministry said corruption was not confined to these two universities, it was rampant in other universities in the state too.

"If proper inquiries are initiated against corruption charges in other universities, several vice chancellors would be exposed for corruption," they said.

In a bid to send a strong message to the governor, Choudhary did not attend LNMU Vice Chancellor Singh's award ceremony on November 22.

Later, Choudhary said the education ministry was not consulted on the awards by the chancellor's office.

Choudhary also said the chancellor should initiate action against those accused of corruption charges.

'The reports of corruption levelled against vice chancellors have tarnished the image of the universities in the state. Action should be taken to restore the credibility of higher education in the state,' Choudhary said.

Bihar Police's special vigilance unit, which has been investigating alleged corruption cases against Rajendra Prasad in cases related to financial irregularities over utilisation of funds under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Mission, has also written to Pataliputra University, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, JP University (Chhapra) and BRA Bihar University (Muzaffarpur), seeking information on bulk purchases from a particular set of Uttar Pradesh-based companies.

It was reported that SVU officials were surprised to find records that these universities placed orders with the same set of UP-based companies over the last couple of years.

Interestingly, several vice chancellors of universities in Bihar hail from Uttar Pradesh.

Even though JD-U ally BJP is silent on the issue, party MLC Nawal Kishor Yadav has demanded action against two vice chancellors and alleged that Raj Bhavan was not taking action.

Opposition leaders from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and CPI-ML said corruption was rampant in state universities and the government and chancellor have been doing nothing to put things in place for higher education.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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