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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

New Bill on Urdu University

By Masood Hasan

The Milli Gazette Online 

Lucknow: The new bill on the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University tabled by the UP government in the Assembly to set up a private Urdu university in Rampur was passed by the House with a voice vote but the BJP boycotted the proceedings claiming that it encourages communalism. The new bill was introduced to allow the Urdu university to be run as a private institution in the wake of the hurdles faced by the earlier bill to establish a government institution. Some amendments were also made in the new bill and the university will be set up by the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust. The amended new bill was tabled in the House by the UP Minister for Revenue Ambika Chaudhary on behalf of Haji Yaqoob Qureshi who is minister of state for minority welfare while the earlier bill was tabled by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan on behalf of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. 
The word "Maulana" was dropped from the new bill. In the new bill, the university will not be established with the grant earlier sanctioned by the state government but the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust will run the university. The Trust is empowered to appoint a rector. Surprisingly, the name of the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan who is instrumental in setting up the university and whose name in the old bill as life pro-chancellor was the bone of contention, has not been mentioned in the new bill. The old bill could have received the governor’s mandatory approval only if Azam Khan withdrew his name as life pro-chancellor.

The earlier bill had been sent to the UP Governor T.V. Rajeswar for his approval. The Congress, a coalition partner of the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state, and the BJP raised strong objections to the name of Azam Khan who had been nominated as the pro-chancellor of the Urdu University for life. Political parties made a fervent appeal to the UP governor not to give his sanction on the bill. The UP Congress president Salman Khursheed went to the extent of saying that the University would be set up in Rampur at all costs but Azam Khan would not play any role in its establishment. The governor himself had objected to the name of Azam Khan as the pro-chancellor of the University for life.

In the old bill, only Urdu, Arabic and Persian languages were proposed to be taught in the University but in the new bill professional courses were also included. 

Controversy has been brewing since the name of Azam Khan figured prominently as the pro-chancellor “for life” of the proposed university. The Minister for Tourism Kokab Hameed had strongly refuted the claims of the BJP and the Congress. He assailed Congress leaders for pursuing the BJP policy. He has made it clear that the RLD has no objection over the name of Azam Khan. 
The UP Congress had earlier described the decision of the Uttar Pradesh cabinet for bringing an ordinance on the proposed Urdu University as contempt of the legislature. The Congress was of the view that a political leader should not be made pro-chancellor of any university for life. After the new private university bill the Congress has again said that it was invalid since the earlier bill on the same university is still lying with the governor.

Political pundits are of the opinion that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are trying to keep their votebank intact among the minorities over the issue of an Urdu university. Since the Congress has been opposing the name of Azam Khan as the pro-chancellor, Azam Khan is branding the Congress as enemy number one of Muslims. Khan has targeted the Congress and went to the extent of saying that the Congress, which had never done anything for the uplift and betterment of the minorities, was creating hurdles in the setting up of Urdu University in Rampur. When the Urdu University bill was tabled in the UP Assembly during the last session, the BJ P had said that it was brought by the Mulayam Singh Government only to appease Muslims. The state unit president of the BJP KN Triparhi had termed the move as "purely communal". Muslim religious leaders had marched to the Raj Bhawan where they submitted a memorandum to the principal secretary to the governor urging him to immediately sign the draft proposal sent by the UP cabinet because it was a first “gift” of its kind being presented to the members of the minority after Independence. The protest march to the Raj Bhawan was held under the banner of the All India Tahaffuz-e-Madaris Council led by Shaikh Sulaiman, a close confidant of Azam Khan, who is also chairman of the State Commission for Minorities.

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