New Delhi: Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Yogesh Tyagi has been on leave due to medical reasons since July, and the acting pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. P.C. Joshi is in charge of all policy decisions in his absence. But despite being on leave, Tyagi has made two appointments in the university in the last couple of days, creating a leadership crisis, hinting at an ongoing turf-war between two sections of teachers within the university.
All this comes at a critical juncture when Delhi University admissions are taking place.
The Ministry of Education has had to intervene to douse the fire, but DU is still reeling under a leadership crisis.
Trouble began Wednesday, when Tyagi appointed Prof. P.C. Jha as the university registrar, signing a letter confirming his appointment. This was on the same day that the university was supposed to hold an executive council (EC) meeting to decide on the permanent appointment of a registrar and a finance officer.
The EC went on as scheduled despite the Tyagi’s surprise announcement, and Vikash Gupta was appointed registrar. According to teachers attending the EC, what followed was unprecedented drama, as Jha protested Gupta’s appointment and sat outside the V-C’s office till late in the evening, and locked up the room before leaving.
Gupta’s appointment by the EC did not go down well with V-C Tyagi, and the next day, Thursday, he made another appointment — picking Geeta Bhatt, associate professor at Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences, to replace Joshi as the acting pro-VC. The idea was to nullify Joshi’s decisions.
So, by Thursday, the Delhi University had two pro-VCs and two registrars, causing utter chaos and confusion among the staff members and faculty.
The matter then reached the Ministry of Education, which intervened and sided with Joshi. Late Thursday evening, it passed an order nullifying the V-C’s decisions, saying: “Tyagi was absent on medical grounds and could not issue orders without formally rejoining after submitting a medical certificate.”
ThePrint reached Bhatt, Joshi and Jha via phone calls and emails, but didn’t receive a response by the time this report was published. A text message sent to Tyagi also remained unanswered.
The incident has divided opinion in DU — one section thinks that two factions of teachers belonging to the same ideology are at loggerheads with each other, while another thinks it is a “manufactured controversy” to derail the process of appointments and promotions.
A university source who did not wish to be identified said: “The two professors that Tyagi appointed — Prof. Jha and Prof. Bhatt — are part of the National Democratic Teachers Front (NDTF), which is inclined towards the BJP, while Prof. Joshi has the support of the government. So, clearly, two fractions of the same ideology are at loggerheads with each other. It is a clear power struggle.”
Rajesh Jha, a member of the executive council, concurred about the power struggle aspect of it.
“The EC that took place Wednesday was the first in six months, so one can understand how crucial it was. Hence, all of us wanted the meeting to happen and no one was happy with Prof. Tyagi’s sudden intervention in the form of an order. What led him to this is not clear, but it seems to be some kind of power struggle within the university,” said Jha.
The NDTF, however, believes that the whole controversy was created to derail the process of appointments and promotions in the university, and blames the role of the Left-aligned Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA).
“Prof. Joshi was doing a good job as the acting V-C, but drama happened only when crucial appointment-related decisions had to be made. It seems to be the handiwork of a certain section that prompted Prof. Tyagi to take the decision. Where is DUTA now, why are they not speaking up?” asked a member of the EC who is associated with the NDTF, on the condition of anonymity.
Teachers who are not in favour of Tyagi’s decision say the controversy has brought a bad name to the university and could have been avoided. They feel that Tyagi took hasty decisions only so that he can have a support system once he comes back.
“Prof. Tyagi has delayed appointments at several key positions in the university. What would prompt him to appoint a person on the same day as the EC was supposed to appoint the registrar? Clearly, he is looking for some support within the university by bringing in his own people,” said another professor who didn’t wish to be named.
Thanks to this series of incidents, DU’s administrative functions have been suffering.
Dean of Colleges Balram Pani told ThePrint, “This is a very strange situation where we don’t know where to send the file for clearance. Even as the ministry has intervened in the matter, tension seems to be brewing within the administrative block. No one knows who is the registrar or who is the pro-VC. We are now waiting for a few days to let the dust settle.”