Patna: The rift between Bihar governor and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Phagu Chauhan and the Nitish Kumar government over the allegations of corruption against the vice-chancellors (VCs) of two state universities has widened amid mounting pressure on the Raj Bhawan to take action against the VCs.
According to reports, Chauhan, also the chancellor of state universities, was set to leave for Delhi on Wednesday and could meet Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan and some other BJP leaders.
The situation worsened with Magadh University VC Rajendra Prasad, who was raided by a special vigilance team investigating the corruption allegations last week, was granted medical leave for a month on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University VC professor Md. Qudus complained directly to Kumar levelling corruption allegations against Lalit Narayan Mithila University VC SP Singh, who was selected for the best VC award by the governor. Both cases have raised eyebrows over Chauhan’s stand. Barely three months ago, Singh was also in charge of three other universities.
Though the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s biggest partner Janata Dal (United) has not formally questioned Chauhan’s role in the lack of action against the two VCs, Bihar education minister and senior JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary was not present at a Raj Bhavan ceremony on November 22 to felicitate best teachers and students in the state’s universities. The absence of Choudhary, a close confidant of Kumar, is being seen as a sign of JD(U)’s unhappiness with Chauhan.
The BJP is silent on the issue with state party president Sanjay Jaiswal describing it as a matter between the state government and the Raj Bhawan.
A senior JD(U) leader told Newsclick that Kumar is unhappy with the governor over Prasad’s continuing as VC despite the serious corruption allegations against him. “It appears that the chief minister wants action against the vice-chancellor and has asked top BJP leaders in Delhi to intervene,” the leader said.
Bihar Police’s special vigilance unit (SVU), which has been investigating the allegations of misutilisation of funds under Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Mission against Prasad, has also written to Pataliputra University, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, JP University and BRA Bihar University after seeking information on bulk purchases of building material, computers and books from a particular set of Uttar Pradesh-based companies.
It was reported that SVU officials found records that showed the university placed orders to the same set of UP-based companies during the last couple of years. Interestingly, it is not a coincidence that several VCs in Bihar were also from UP.
Two years ago, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal had questioned Chauhan’s presence at a meeting organised by Nonia, Bind & Bedar Mahasangh, which is supported by the BJP. Kumar had ignored the matter due to political compulsions.
An education activist alleged that the BJP has been using the governor to control higher education in the state by appointing its supporters to top posts and implementing its agenda bypassing Kumar.