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Clear view that government doesn't want me: Amartya Sen
Friday February 20, 2015 10:02 PM, IANS

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen Friday said that despite Nalanda University Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, being in favour of his continuing as chancellor and the university governing board having immediately "minuted" its decision to select him, there was a "clear view" that the government does not want him.

Speaking to NDTV news channel, following his letter withdrawing his candidature as chancellor, he said: "If the Visitor is not unkeen on my candidature and it is not happening, there is a certain amount of evidence indicating that (the government does not want me) and if there is a clear view that government does not want me, it is evident."

He also said the minutes of the Nalanda governing board were "shared immediately, and the particular part dealing with the chancellor's term was not only adopted unanimously, and the board took a view that it is being minuted right now, so that there is no delay; and in the presence of Secretary (East) in the ministry of external affairs and the joint secretary Nalanda; that this is being minuted right now and it will be circulated".

He said the chancellor selection part was "already minuted on a special power of the board".

He said the entire minutes of the meeting went out two weeks ago "and got the response from everyone on the board, except the ministry of external affairs", he told the channel.

On his criticism of Narendra Modi before he became prime minister and of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sen said "as an Indian voter it is my liberty to like or not a candidate".

He clarified that the controversy was not "about my chancellorship but in the political interference in a matter of the board's power, which is to be signed on by the president; of turning an academic decision into a political one".

In his letter withdrawing his candidature, he wrote: "I understand that the Board's decision was conveyed to the Visitor in mid-January, immediately after the meeting of the Governing Board of the Nalanda University, drawing his attention to the urgency of the matter, since the planning and implementation of new teaching and research arrangements are proceeding rapidly in the newly functioning University.

"I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as Chancellor of Nalanda University beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the Governing Board for me to continue. I take this opportunity also to thank the Governing Board very warmly for its confidence in me."

The external affairs ministry clarified that there was no attempt to curtail the tenure of Amartya Sen as chancellor of Nalanda University, a multi-nation initiative that began its academic session last September.

Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the ministry has not yet received the approved minutes of the meeting of the governing board of Nalanda University from the members, in order to forward it to the Visitor, the president of India, for approval.

Akbaruddin said the draft of the minutes of the meeting was received Feb 13 with a covering that it is to be approved in two weeks time. He said the approved minutes had not yet been received, and there was "still time".

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