The West Bengal Assembly has passed a Bill that seeks to replace the governor with the chief minister as the chancellor of the state’s University of Health Sciences. The University of Health Sciences (Amendment) Bill was passed with 134 votes in favour of it and 51 against, with the BJP opposing it.
The West Bengal University of Health Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was passed days after the Assembly cleared other bills to replace the governor with the chief minister as chancellor in state varsities and the education minister as the reader of private universities.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said that he will consider those bills without any ‘bias or prejudice’ when they will be placed before him. He also claimed that the legislation was brought and passed to divert the people’s attention after the Calcutta High Court found illegalities in the recruitment of teachers in schools sponsored and aided by the state government.
The Bill which was introduced by Minister of State for Health, Chandrima Bhattacharya, was first passed by voice vote but later taken up for a vote by ballot at the insistence of the opposition BJP.
The TMC government’s move came after a series of run-ins between the governor and the CM, including over Dhankhar calling vice-chancellors for meetings, which the state administration did not approve of.
The concurrent list consists of subjects of common interest to both the Union and the states. Both the Parliament and the state legislatures can make laws on the subjects included in this list but in case of a conflict between the Union and the state on a law relating to the same subject, the Union law prevails. The list includes education.
Dhankhar stated that opposition BJP MLAs who met him at the Raj Bhavan during the day had told him that the objective of the Trinamool Congress government is to create a new post that will make the same person chief minister and governor of West Bengal. “This can’t happen. We are a society governed by law. Your governor is a servant of the Indian Constitution and the people of West Bengal,” he said.
The governor, who has shared an acrimonious relationship with the Trinamool Congress government since he assumed office in July 2019, claimed that the state government not adopting the Centre’s New Education Policy is “destroying the education and future of students of Bengal.” Reacting to the allegations of the governor, the TMC attacked Dhankhar accusing him of acting like a BJP agent.
“What the BJP said a few days back, the governor is saying the same thing. It only proves that the governor is just behaving like an agent of the BJP,” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
The Tamil Nadu state assembly had last month curbed the Governor’s powers in appointing vice-chancellors of state universities and given that role to the state government.
With inputs from PTI.