The uncertainty over the impasse continues without diminishing though Prof. W. Vishwanath has assumed the office of Vice Chancellor in charge in principle with effect from 3rd August 2018. But there was not much public knowledge, including the university community, about his assuming charge. This is evident when the university community represented by MUSA, MUSU and MUTA resolved to reaffirm the demand for reinstitution of an independent high power committee under the Commission of Enquiry Act 1952, and also further resolving to appeal Prof. Vishwanath to assume the charge of vice-chancellor only if he could fulfil the preconditions placed before him by the University community. His letter, dated 8th August 2018, addressed to the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of HRD, GoI also requested for ‘resolving the present crisis of the university’. The letter also expressed the unpredictable shocker when Prof. AP Pandey who has been on leave was found performing as the Manipur University outside the state of Manipur. His letter also categorically stated that it not only hampered the entire teaching learning process of the university but also for the 93 colleges affiliated to it. While insisting the HRD Ministry to reconstitute the enquiry under Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 and also to link the leave granted to Prof AP Pandey with the enquiry, it also expressed his inability to perform his duty fully pending the constitution of the high power committee.
In fact W. Vishwanth, while respecting the sentiments and concerns of the University Community has at the same time shown the audacity of assuming the office of VC in charge in principle. But the HRD ministry is yet to respond to his letter though he has given two days time. It would be pertinent to recall that HRD Ministry under Narendra Modi Government, in earlier charges of irregularities and financial misappropriation by the VCs, opted for constituting a Visitorial Inquiry through UGC as per orders of the President of India in his capacity as the Visitor. This happened in the case of Jamia Millia Islamia, N. Delhi; Tripura Central University, Agartala; Delhi University; Visva-Bharati Calcutta; Puducherry University; Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University; Aligarh Muslim University, and Allahabad University. The charges labelled against VC Pande are quite vast and enormous both in times of variety and volume comparing with those incumbent VCs who faced visitorial enquiry. And why in-house fact finding committee with two members subordinate to the rank of VC for AP Pandey which is very much lower in stature in comparison to the Visitorial Enquiry. It doesn’t need any further mention, as everyone is familiar, even to the extent of getting fed up, with the charges labelled against VC Pandey. His proximity with the power corridors, in the state and as well as the centre’s, is also well known. In the early phase of the agitation, MUTA took the stand of not accepting VC in charge by any of its members. Considering it, Prof. Vishwanath accepting the VC in charge, even though in principle and the university community’s readiness to accept him to the fulfilment of their demand for enquiry under Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 and also to link the leave granted to Prof AP Pandey with the enquiry is quite a tone down from their earlier stand.
The ongoing impasse is in stark contrast with the vision of the Modi Government of a new India by 2022 by providing new directions to the youths by building up the country’s educational infrastructure both in terms of human material as well as human resources. How this impasse is greatly demoralising to the youths in this part of the country doesn’t need any further mention. It was learned leading civil society organisations in the state also already have a joint discussion with the aggrieved agitating university community more than a couple of times or so. Yesterday only, Bihar social welfare minister Manju Verma resigned over the allegations of her husband having links with the alleged mastermind of the shelter home scandal. We are not asking for the resignation of our Chief Minister, Ministers or any of the legislatures on this issue of ongoing University impasse. But their efforts towards restoring normalcy by addressing the impasse still seems wanting. The University community should also be sensitive to the contesting voice that their act of continuing agitation amounts to ‘burning the house to smoke out a rat’, which in our local parlance runs very much like ‘Uchi kallak yum mei thaba’. Their voices also cannot be illegitimated as not genuine. The agitating university community may have enough reasons for their apprehensions from their past experiences with the outcome of the initiatives by the state government. But that should not be reason enough for not having any further engagement with the state government.
The outcome would have been more fruitful if the issue is deliberated and discussed at the presence of both the Governor and the Chief Minister. If the state government which has the same party ruling the centre could not convince the MHRD, GoI to resolve the present crisis of the university VC, along the line of suggestions made by the present VC in charge, people at large will have a very poor opinion about the performance of the Government even questioning the legitimacy of their remaining to power if ever there is public hearing over the issue.