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Smriti Irani should have given more respect to V-Cs: AMU V-C

The V-C also gave credence to rumours that he could not get an appointment with Irani despite several attempts for almost a year.

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Smriti Irani, as Human Resource Development Minister, should have been accessible and should have given more respect to vice-chancellors, Aligarh Muslim University V-C Lieutenant General (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, told The Indian Express on Friday.

Irani was relieved of the HRD portfolio and made Textiles Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle this week. During her tenure as HRD Minister, she was perceived to be brusque and stand-offish with academicians, which purportedly led to the controversial resignation of Professor R K Shevgaonkar from the post of director at IIT Delhi. Scientist Anil Kakodkar, too, reportedly quit as chairman of IIT Bombay for the same reason.

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Referring to this perception, the AMU head said, “That (her equation with academicians) has been aired many times in the press. I think she needed to give more respect to V-Cs given their age and experience.” Shah acknowledged that he, too, had been at the receiving end of discourtesy from Irani.

According to reports, the former HRD Minister had embarrassed Shah on January 8 by asking him to leave a meeting in the presence of ex-Kerala CM Oommen Chandy and Lok Sabha MP E T Mohammed Basheer. The meeting was being held to discuss the funding of AMU’s off-campus centre in Malappuram, Kerala. When the university V-C walked into the room, Irani apparently asked him to leave saying that he wasn’t invited.

Acknowledging the incident on record for the first time, Shah said, “I was part of a delegation which had accompanied the Kerala CM. She did not want me to participate. The way she behaved with me… I later told her that I did not appreciate it. But that matter is over now.”

The V-C also gave credence to rumours that he could not get an appointment with Irani despite several attempts for almost a year.

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“It’s true that I did not get an appointment with her for almost a year and got one only after I met the Prime Minister (to apprise him of concerns over the government withdrawing its support for AMU’s minority status). All education ministers have been accommodating in the past. I had raised this in my last meeting with her but she did not give a reason for the delay in granting appointment.”

He, however, did not wish to get to speculate on reasons why Irani was moved out. “That (decision to move Smriti Irani out) is primarily the prerogative of the Prime Minister. A person in charge of this ministry should be someone who understands academics and academicians.”

First published on: 09-07-2016 at 04:34:24 am
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