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Renewed Spat Between VC & Intransigent Lobby Triggered

Politics of a brand no less than seen in the country’s Parliament or State assemblies continues to pan out in the governing bodies of the premier government university, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and the Vice President of India, who happens to be Chancellor of the university, is allowing this ugly face of the dance of democracy to play out in full public glare. The cause of the latest flash point in the university Senate and Syndicate is the all important issue of governance reforms. Vice Chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover, at loggerheads with a well entrenched and dominant section within the two governing bodies right through the six-year long innings he has had at the helm of the university, is keen on pushing through the recommendations of a governance reforms committee after a quick debate before he bows out in another two weeks’ time. His staunch opponents, who are seen to be clearly the most affected by the recommendations of the committee, on the other hand are determined to frustrate his plans once again. After ensuring on Saturday that the scheduled meeting of the Syndicate did not happen, they were again successful in engineering a disruption in a valid meeting of the Senate with a complete quorum on Sunday.

Even before the agendas could be taken up for discussion, voices began to be raised from among the elected representatives, apparently sympathetic towards the boycotting senators, that in view of the thin attendance (only quorum-completing 16 members were present in a House of 90-plus members) the meeting may be postponed for a couple of days to allow wider and more meaningful discussion. On the other hand, some very senior nominated members, who earlier placed on record their appreciation for the courage and commitment displayed by the Vice Chancellor in steering the university towards new horizons, opposed the suggestion saying that a handful of dissatisfied members could not be allowed to violate the sanctity of the House. All dissent, they asserted, should be placed on record within the House, not outside it in public domain.

Renewed Spat Between VC & Intransigent Lobby Triggered, Lifeinchd

Suggestions like adjourning the House till after lunch to allow the boycotters to join the proceedings, and allowing only the most urgent agenda items to be taken up, failed to break the deadlock. At one point the Vice Chancellor, who was chairing the meeting on behalf of the Chancellor, put the issue to vote, offering to abstain himself, but the vote again threw up a fractured verdict. Finally, before concluding the meeting, and promising to report the proceedings to the Chancellor for his advice on further course of action, Prof. Grover extracted an authorisation from the House to deal with most urgent matters from among the agenda items in consultation with the Dean Students’ Welfare and convey the outcomes to all members.

Immediately after the conclusion of Sunday’s meeting, the Vice Chancellor, as announced in the House, is understood to have shot off a mail to the Vice President of India, who is the chairperson of the university Senate, seeking an urgent appointment in the context of the proceedings of the House.

Prof. Grover is clearly miffed at the public stand taken by the dominant section in the Syndicate and Senate that they will not attend any meeting held under his chairmanship. As he has showed on previous occasions, he appears to be equally determined not to allow the opposing “band of senators and syndics” to hold him to ransom with their “disruptive agenda against him”.

The ball is once again in the court of the Chancellor to take a call in the overall interests of the university. Will he be obliged to give the intransigent members of the governing bodies one more chance to discharge their responsibilities before the current Vice Chancellor demits charge, or will he choose to soft pedal the issue remains to be seen.

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