The clamour demanding Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar’s removal grew several folds on Thursday (January 9) with JNU Students Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh asserting it will not relent till the VC is sacked. But what came as a surprise was BJP veteran and former HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi opining that Kumar should not be allowed to continue in this post.
Kumar was appointed vice-chancellor of the premier university in January 2016 and has been under scrutiny for some of his controversial decisions. The latest in this series is the violence that was unleashed on January 5 evening when masked goons, allegedly belonging to ABVP, entered the campus and attacked students and faculty members with iron rods and sledgehammers.
Holding the vice-chancellor responsible for allowing violence on the campus, JNUSU and the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) had demanded his removal. However, the HRD ministry on Thursday ruled out the removal option, saying sacking him is not the solution and the government’s focus is to address the main issues that have cropped up on campus.
Ministry officials, however, asserted that the ‘formula’ decided during consultations with students and administration needs to be implemented. HRD Secretary Amit Khare met a delegation of representatives from JNUSU and JNUTA where they put forward the demand of VC’s removal.
“Removing the VC is not the solution. The basic issue on which the whole problem has arisen needs to be addressed first. Changing X, Y or Z is not as important as resolving the issues that have come up. The basic bone of contention needs to be resolved,” Khare said. The HRD Ministry has called the students again on Friday after the meeting with Vice Chancellor and his team.
However, after meeting the HRD officials, JNUSU president Ghosh made it clear the students and faculty will not relent till the vice-chancellor is sacked. Ghosh said they appealed to HRD ministry to remove the VC, which in turn said a dialogue will be held on Friday. “We will not compromise with HRD ministry over the removal of the VC. It is still thinking whether the VC should be removed,” she said.
But, what came as a surprise was Murli Manohar Joshi joining the clamour for the VC’s ouster and tweeting about the vice-chancellor being adamant on not implementing government proposal. “Reports are that the HRD ministry had twice advised the JNU VC to implement certain reasonable and working formula for resolving the issue of enhanced fees in JNU.
— Murli Manohar Joshi (@drmmjoshibjp) January 9, 2020
“He (Kumar) was also advised to reach out to the teachers and students. It is shocking that the VC is adamant on not implementing the government proposal. This attitude is deplorable and in my opinion such a VC should not be allowed to continue on this post,” the senior leader said in a tweet.
His tweet comes after The Indian Express reported on Thursday that Kumar was given an ultimatum on December 11 to “either accept a compromise formula to end the standoff with agitating students or resign. In less than 48 hours, the then Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam was himself shunted out.”’
Kumar, according to the report, had agreed to compromise but later took a u-turn. “Following the ultimatum on December 11, Kumar is learned to have agreed to the compromise, but he backtracked a day later. Subrahmanyam was transferred on December 13 and was replaced by Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare,” the report said.
Now, add to this, a petition signed by over 250 senior academics and administrators from 22 countries, demanding Kumar’s removal. The signatories alleged Sunday’s violence was politically-motivated and “violates every norm of democracy, of academic freedom, of the protection of universities from arbitrary state power, and of the duty of university administrators to protect their students and faculty. The administration of the University, and especially the vice-chancellor, Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, have lost all national and international credibility.”
(With inputs from agencies)