Education is a fundamental right of every individual which should ideally be out of the controllership of any authority. Education carries the bandwidth to trace the degree to which a state has developed. However, the desire of various officials makes education a spectrum for political propaganda. Mamata Banerjee, being an astute politician is becoming nosey against the governor of the very state which she is ruling.
The authoritarian West Bengal Government
On 26 May, the West Bengal Cabinet passed a resolution to nominate Chief Minister as the Chancellor of all state-run universities. It will be done by removing Governors from the post. Announcing the decision, the state Education Minister said that Mamata Banerjee will be the new Chancellor of all Bengal state government-run universities.
The state Education Minister Bratya Basu said, “It was unanimously decided at a Cabinet meeting held today that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be appointed as Chancellor of all State universities. An Act to this effect will be tabled in the Assembly soon.”
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The controversial issue came into the limelight when Jagdeep Dhankhar, the Governor of Bengal, was involved in a dispute with the state government over the appointment of Vice-Chancellors in different universities in December last year. He had earlier remarked that the state government had appointed various Vice-Chancellors without the consent of Raj Bhavan. Earlier, he had also pointed out that VCs for 25 universities were appointed “illegally without Chancellor approval”. Dhankhar had said, “It is high time to introspect whether we should continue with the colonial legacy of the Governor being the Chancellor of Universities just by the virtue of his post or we should nominate eminent scholars and educationists as Chancellors.”
Tracing the roots of the issue
Bengal is not the first state to demand extra authority for its Chief Minister. Assuming it as a sudden decision will put you on the other side of the fence. The squabble carries its roots in opposition ruled Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Last December, there was a tussle going on between the Kerala government and Governor Arif Mohammed Khan over the appointment of Vice-Chancellors.
The same incident took place in Tamil Nadu as well where the DMK government sought the bills to empower itself and assume control of state-run universities. The Tamil Nadu government had amended Dr Ambedkar Law University Act to appoint the Vice-Chancellor rather than the Governor appointing it according to the UGC act.
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Drooping left opposition governments
All this can be attributed to the authoritative nature of respective state governments. State governments are turning hoarse to grab every pie of authority under them. The notion of political propaganda has a long legacy but now this has spearheaded education as well.
The state governments having a left-liberal ideological tilt are feeling themselves in the doldrums and thus becoming impatient in assuming control over state universities. The current nationalist government has back-seated these left parties which is causing a huge loss to them. It has been evident that leftist state governments are becoming possessive of their powers as their ultimate fear of losing power is getting closer to them.
In a democracy, the education rollout should always be transparent and unfair. The drains of political propaganda should not hinder the education of the students. Controlling the education system of a state clearly demarcates the beginning of the era of the monarchy. The existence of dictatorship is an infringement of democracy for which people proclaiming “Khela Hobe” are responsible.
“Youth” on the target
Amidst all this political mess, youth is considered among the most literate voters who believe in and understand democracy and its functioning within society. And now, they have become the target audience for opposition-ruled state governments who are now rigorously attempting to turn youth to their advantage. Persuading youth towards them will give the authorities a chance to fulfil their aspirations.
The making of Mamata Banerjee the Chancellor of Bengal government-run universities will boost the control of the Chief Minister. This is her last-ditch attempt to save her power in the Bengal.