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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Urdu university
UP to issue ordinance

By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: Confrontation between the State governor and the Uttar Pradesh Government headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav seems to be imminent as the state cabinet approved the draft ordinance without any amendment for the proposed Urdu University to be set up in Rampur. Despite objections raised by the Congress, a coalition partner of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh over the proposal of the Urban Development Minister Azam Khan as the pro-chancellor of the university for life, the state cabinet approved the draft ordinance which was earlier withdrawn from the legislative assembly due to these objections (see MG 110, p.1). 

The UP governor had raised some objections when the bill was tabled in the assembly for its approval. The objection was against the name of Azam Khan who was proposed as the pro-chancellor of the Urdu University for life.

On the other hand, the UP Congress has described the decision of the state cabinet of issuing an ordinance on the proposed name of Azam Khan as pro-chancellor of the Urdu University as contempt of the legislature. The Congress is of the view that a political leader should not be made pro-chancellor of any university for life and that an academic atmosphere should be maintained in the university at all cost. 

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh cabinet on 17 August decided to bring an ordinance to set up the state's first Urdu university and appoint one of their colleagues as pro vice chancellor for life, a move that has been intensely criticized by the political parties. 

Said All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Satyavrata Chaturvedi: "We are not against the setting up of an Urdu university, but at no cost can we accept anyone as a lifetime head of such an institution. It is wrong in principle." 

Announcing the controversial decision, state Chief Secretary V. K. Mittal told a press conference that the proposed Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University would have Urban Development Minister Mohammed Azam Khan as its lifetime pro vice chancellor. 

Khan is also chairperson of a trust named after Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar. 
The subject has evoked much criticism earlier with opposition even protesting on the floor of the house. But Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is clearly undeterred. 

"The opposition stand does not bother me. I have always been a well wisher of the minorities and whatever I have done for Muslims in particular cannot be equalled by any other party in the country," he said. "If anyone chooses to oppose the move, it is his problem," Yadav added. 

The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Pramod Tiwari said that the Congress was the only party that could protect the interests of the minorities. The Congress leader has clarified that his party has no objections to the proposed Urdu University to be set up in Rampur and will support the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Urdu Univerity Bill 2004 and get it passed in the Assembly if the name of the life pro-chancellor is dropped. 

Political analysts say that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are heading for a showdown over the proposed university only to keep intact their votebank among the Muslims.

The UP Urban Development Minister Azam Khan has targeted the Congress and went to the extent of saying that the Congress, which had never done anything for the upliftment and betterment of the minorities, was creating hurdles in the setting up Urdu University in Rampur. Azam Khan has also expressed apprehension over the approval of the draft ordinance by the state governor. The draft ordinance was approved by the state cabinet proposing the name of Azam Khan as the pro-chancellor of the Urdu University for life. Azam Khan said that the governor might delay the approval for reasons known only to him. He said that he was ready to shine shoes at road crossings for the establishment of the Urdu University.

The Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University Bill was tabled on the floor of the UP assembly in the last session of the house. The BJP said that the Bill was brought by the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Government only to appease the Muslims. 

The state president of the BJP Kesari Nath Triparhi has termed the move as "purely communal" and has said that Mulayam Singh Government has handed over the university to a person belonging to his party. The Rashtriya Lok Dal, led by Ajit Singh, a partner of the ruling coalition, preferred to keep mum on the issue fearing a dent in the party’s Muslim votebank.

Azam Khan, who is the chairman of the Mohammad Ali Jauhar Welfare Trust in Rampur, was made pro-chancellor for life in the scuttled bill. The pro-chancellor will address the university conferences and preside over the convocation in the absence of the chancellor. Azam Khan, who is number two in the Mulayam Singh cabinet, took a keen interest and worked untiringly to set up this university in the state.

The UP government has decided to spend about one billion rupees to set up the university. This amount was proposed in the current budget. The university would impart education to students up to the research level in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. In this university curriculum would be based on Islam. The state government has argued that there was no arrangement for the proper education in Urdu in the state. 

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