The West Bengal assembly on Monday, 13 June, passed a bill to replace Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the chancellor of state-run universities under different departments like health, agriculture, animal husbandry, and minority affairs.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was passed after 182 members voted in favour of the legislation and 40 voted against, a week after the West Bengal Cabinet approved the proposed bill.
Later on Monday, BJP leader and Leaders of the Opposition in Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, said, "Education comes under the concurrent list. I will meet Governor next Monday on the issue and will request to send it to Delhi (for the consideration of the President)."
'CM's Appointment Would Deal a Blow to Autonomy'
A group of 40 eminent personalities from West Bengal, including actor Kaushik Sen and activist Sujato Bhadra, had expressed their dissatisfaction over the chief minister's appointment, in a statement on Saturday, 11 June, arguing that this would "deal a blow" to the universities' autonomy.
They added that this would ignore the people's long-standing demand to have a prominent educationist in the post.
“I am opposed to this appointment, as much as we are against the practice of the governor becoming the chancellor,” Kaushik Sen told news agency PTI.
Speaking on the resistance, WB Education Minister Bratya Basu said, "About the opposition, I have nothing to say. We've brought a bill to change our Governor from the post of the chancellor only. We offered and suggested that CM will be the chancellor and whole house has accepted it. Now we're sending it to Governor."
What Had Led to the Bill?
In May, West Bengal Education Minister Bratya Basu had said that the state government would table a bill in the state assembly to make CM Banerjee the chancellor of all state-run universities in place of the governor.
In December last year, Basu had said that the government was mulling replacing Dhankhar as the chancellor, as he did not cooperate in administrative matters.
"The governor does not extend any cooperation and unnecessarily holds back files, thus my department is constrained to consider replacing the governor with the chief minister as the chancellor of different universities," Education Minister Basu had said.
(With inputs from PTI.)