New Delhi: Opposition parties led by Congress and SP today created a storm in Rajya Sabha over alleged government interference in the autonomy of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), forcing adjournment of the House till noon.
Opposition members trooped into the Well, raising slogans against alleged threat to the minority status of the university and government interference. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked members to return to their seats and give notice if they wanted a discussion on the issue but as none relented, he adjourned the House till noon.
Javed Ali Khan of SP, through a Zero Hour mention, raised the issue of Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani declaring offsite centres of the University illegal and threatening to stop financial aid.
The University's Executive Committee and Academic Council, drawing rights from Section 12 of AMU Act, in 2008 had decided to set up five off campus centres. Three of them were made operational, he said adding the BJP government has now questioned that decision, Khan said. He said AMU Vice Chancellor has in a statement said that HRD Minister was declaring these centres illegal and threatening to stop assistance.
"They talk of 'sab ka saath, sab ka vikas' but want to deprive a large section of population of education," he said demanding a clarification from the government on the minority status of AMU and other such institutions.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government is committed to protecting minority status of AMU and other minority institutions. The AMU matter is in court and everyone should abide by whatever the judicial verdict, he said.
Not satisfied by the answer, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and Digvijayaa Singh (Cong) joined Khan saying the BJP government withdrew an affadivit given by the previous UPA government and submitted a new one in the Supreme Court, leading to the present situation.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) wanted the government to explain the new affadivit, while Anand Sharma (Cong) wanted an explanation as to why it changed the affadavit. "Why are you targeting minority institutions," he asked.
Yechury said the issue was serious and had the potential of creating very big communal polarisation. Some Opposition members also alleged that Naqvi was misleading the House.
Kurien said if the minister was misleading, there was provision in the rule book which can be invoked. "If you want discussion, give notice. What can I do?"
Naqvi said the government was neither opposing, nor supporting AMU. This led to slogan-shouting SP members trooping into the Well. Soon Congress and CPI(M) members also joined them in the Well.
"This is also vote bank politics," Kurien remarked asking members to go back and give notice if they wanted a discussion on the issue. But the members continued to raise slogans alleging government inteference.
"I would request the agitated members, if you want result give notice. Chairman will consider it," Kurien said.
But the members were unrelenting. Kurien tried to conduct the proceedings for some time but as the slogan shouting continued, he adjourned the House till 1200 hours.