Another Raj Bhavan vs DMK govt flashpoint as TN governor extends tenure of Periyar University V-C

Another Raj Bhavan vs DMK govt flashpoint as TN governor extends tenure of Periyar University V-C

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi’s move to extend the tenure of Periyar University Vice-Chancellor (V-C) R. Jagannathan has become the latest flashpoint between the governor and the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the state.

Ravi, Saturday, extended Jagannathan’s tenure as the Salem-based university’s V-C till 19 May 2025.

Appointed the V-C in June 2021, Jagannathan was arrested last year over allegations of financial and administrative irregularities in his university. His tenure was supposed to end Sunday.

Condemning the governor’s move, teaching and non-teaching staff of Periyar University Monday launched a protest on the university campus. Roughly 120 members of various associations of teachers and other employees participated in the protest on the campus after 5 pm.

“Vice-chancellor’s tenure was supposed to end on 30 June. But, the governor extended it to 19 May 2025. This violates the rules. Many people have applied for the post. They have experience and qualifications. So, it was unnecessary to give the post to him,” V. Vaidyanathan, the president of the teachers’ association at Periyar University, told ThePrint.

Vaidyanathan said that a probe committee found the allegations against V-C Jagannathan true, and the governor, as the chancellor of universities, should have taken action against Jagannathan. He added that when the state government directed Jagannathan to suspend Thangavel, who was also found embroiled in administrative irregularities, the V-C did not.

The governor’s decision to extend Jagannathan’s tenure came a week after Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy announced in the state assembly that there would be no tenure extension for the V-C. Ravi’s move will likely intensify the ongoing tussle between the state government and the Raj Bhavan.

ThePrint contacted the governor’s media advisor, Thirugnana Sambandam, and Deputy Secretary to the Governor (Universities) S. Prasanna Ramasamy. This copy will be updated if and when the Raj Bhavan responds.

Also read: DMK is now embracing Murugan. Why no party in Tamil Nadu can escape this Dravidian god

The case against R. Jagannathan

On 26 December last year, Salem police arrested Jagannathan from the university on financial and administrative irregularities charges. However, the V-C was released on bail the following day.

The state BJP unit, at the time, condemned the late-night arrest of the V-C, kicking off a political row. State BJP chief K. Annamalai had claimed the V-C’s arrest came due to pressure from Ponmudy.

The FIR was on the complaint of Isaiah Elangovan, the legal advisor of the Periyar University Employees Union (PUEU).

It said the Periyar University Technology Entrepreneurship and Research Foundation (PUTER Foundation) and the PUTER Park Lab were set up, without proper approvals. It also alleged that the complainant was subjected to casteist slurs and threats by the V-C.

Following his bail, Jagganathan approached the Madras High Court, requesting the quashing of the FIR against him. Citing an “ulterior motive” behind the complaint, the court stayed the probe in January this year.

In the same month, the state higher education department appointed IAS officers S. Palanisamy and M. Ilango Henry Dass to investigate Thangavel after multiple complaints against him over administrative irregularities, including in the procurement of low-configuration computers and bias towards one firm in outsourcing campus-related works.

Based on the probe committee report, the state government directed the V-C to suspend Thangavel, who, at the time, was facing a 29 February retirement. The V-C defied the orders and allowed Thangavel to retire.

Amid the probe, Ravi, in January, visited the Periyar University campus, where he met up with Jagannanthan, sparking protests from various student outfits affiliated with the ruling DMK and Left parties.

Also read: Ravichandran Ashwin urges Tamillians to learn Hindi, says they will ‘blossom’ if they change mindset

TN govt-Raj Bhavan tussle

Jagannathan, who assumed the role of Periyar University VC on 1 July 2021, worked at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, for nearly 39 years in the positions of the dean of agriculture, professor, head of the Agro-climatic Research Centre, and adjunct faculty.

According to a press statement released by the Raj Bhavan, Jagannathan has also functioned as a member and chairman of the board of studies and a member of the academic council at TNAU and other colleges. In 2017, he received recognition from the Association of Agro Meteorology, India, for his “service for agro meteorology in India”.

Ravi has been at loggerheads with the state government since being appointed Tamil Nadu governor in 2021.

Earlier this year, the governor cut short an hour-long policy address prepared by the DMK government for the state budget session to only three minutes, saying that he “convincingly disagreed” with many of the passages on moral and factual grounds. Ravi walked out of the state assembly before the end of the session and slammed the state government for “disrespecting” the national anthem.

The governor also refused to re-induct Ponmudy into the state cabinet in March this year over his December 2023 conviction in a disproportionate assets case from 2011 by the Supreme Court. The state government, however, approached the Supreme Court, which came down heavily on the governor for this act. A day later, the Raj Bhavan held the swearing-in ceremony.

DMK spokesperson A. Saravanan did not respond to ThePrint’s calls and messages. The story will be updated when he responds.

(Edited by Madhurita Goswami)

Also read: All about Foxconn in India — boosted manufacturing in TN, under scanner for labour practices


Source link



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

Social Media

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.