ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY Vice-Chancellor R L Hangloo accused the Centre of interfering in the varsity’s internal matters on Wednesday, only to withdraw the allegation later and blame “political interference” for bringing the varsity’s administrative machinery to a “standstill”.
Earlier this week, the university reversed its order on making online entrance tests mandatory for admission to post-graduate courses. This step, Hangloo said, was taken at the behest of the HRD ministry which gave in to pressure from some BJP MPs. The V-C even offered to resign on Wednesday.
“If politicians continue to interfere, we will all have to leave. Then government can run the university as per their opinion. Then it would be better to have MLAs or MPs as vice-chancellor in place of academicians,” he said at a media interaction.
“The ministry should not have interfered in this matter because only four people were on hunger strike for their vested interests and not for the university’s benefit,” he said.
Interestingly, shortly after the press interaction, Hangloo sent a clarification to the Rajya Sabha chairman stating that neither HRD Minister Smriti Irani nor her officers had meddled with the functioning of the university. “There have been twisted statements by the press and media which should be ignored completely,” he said in the letter.
Hangloo, in his subsequent interviews in the day, blamed BJP, Samajwadi Party and Congress leaders for vitiating the campus atmosphere and putting pressure on him to reverse the varsity’s order on making online entrance tests mandatory. He also alleged that SP workers from nearly 12 districts had planned an attack on him. “I have informed the HRD ministry about the situation,” he said.
According to university sources, BJP MPs Vinod Sonkar, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Virendra Singh, MLA Krishna Paswan, MLC Laxman Acharya and party state general secretary Swatantra Deo Singh had visited the university last week and met the students who were on a hunger strike to protest the decision on online entrance tests.
SP MLAs Satyaveer Singh Munna, Haji Parvez Ahmad Tanki, Prashant Singh, MLC Vasudeo Yadav and Congress MLAs Anugrah Narayan Singh and Rita Bahuguna Joshi also met the students on campus. The hunger strike began on May 4 and ended on May 9.
According to sources, a group of BJP MPs met HRD Minister Smriti Irani recently to press for the restoration of the offline option. A subsequent communication from the ministry is learnt to have prompted the university administration to roll back its decision. “This will hurt the Digital India dream of this government,” said Hangloo.
The move to introduce online tests met with stiff resistance from students on the ground that the offline option is important for candidates hailing from remote areas with poor internet connectivity. The university administration relented a bit by allowing only undergraduates to take tests offline.
Students, however, persisted with their protests and sought the help of their seniors in the main political parties, which, Hangloo alleged, led to political interference.
The HRD ministry, meanwhile, sought to distance itself from the controversy on Wednesday. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, officials said the government’s letter to Allahabad University only “noted” that the varsity administration has no objection to holding offline entrance test this year and that the online mode could be launched from next year.
The issue became a flashpoint in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday as Irani accused SP of threatening Hangloo. SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav alleged that the VC had complained of interference by the Centre.