‘Could a vice chancellor disallow an MP, that too a Gandhi?’

By Asit Srivastava, IANS,

Lucknow : Days after he resigned as vice chancellor of a Kanpur university, V.K. Suri says he disallowed Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s entry on campus last month “under immense political pressure” and was made a “scapegoat” in the entire episode.

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“The decision was not mine. I was compelled to make the move,” Suri, the former vice chancellor of Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University, told IANS on phone from Kanpur.

Breaking his silence on the issue, he said: “Could a vice chancellor disallow a parliamentarian and that too Gandhi’s scion from entering the campus? Never.”

Suri resigned Tuesday after being in the eye of a storm for disallowing Gandhi from visiting the varsity and meeting students. He had joined the varsity in October 2006.

Gandhi was to attend a students’ conference on the occasion of the varsity’s convocation ceremony Oct 24. However, after the Congress MP landed, the auditorium where the programme was to be held was locked by the university administration on the ground that permission had not been sought for organising the conference.

Suri said the move was made “under immense political pressure”.

Asked to elaborate, Suri, without naming any political party, said: “All are aware about the ever-rising tussle between political outfits in Uttar Pradesh.”

“I was made a scapegoat in that rivalry. Caught between two political opponents, you would know better on whose directives I first cancelled Rahul’s programme and who made me step down,” said Suri.

The Congress party had alleged that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati had directed the university administration to ban Gandhi’s entry on the campus.

Later, Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeswar, who is believed to be close to the Gandhi family, sought an explanation in writing from Suri over the entire issue, according to officials.

But this tussle might just have cost the university an efficient administrator.

According to varsity officials, Suri was instrumental in undertaking projects for improving crop variety and cropping systems.

“Under his guidance we carried out successful research in various domains, including seed production, technologies for reclaiming Usar (barren) soil, and improvement of dry land agriculture,” said a faculty member on condition of anonymity.

A teacher with the agriculture faculty said: “Suri’s absence will definitely hamper the research work of the varsity. He is paying the price for a move he was pressurised to make.”