Smriti Irani faces flak over Anil Kakodkar quitting IIT Bombay board

New Delhi: The HRD Ministry was hit by yet another controversy with chairman of IIT Bombay's board of governors and nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar resigning apparently due to differences with the Ministry over selection of some IIT directors.

Smriti Irani
Smriti Irani

Drawing flak, HRD Minister Smriti Irani denied any rift and stated that he would continue to remain in his post. "There has been no rift or controversy. He had put in his papers but has agreed to continue after my telephonic conversation with him," Irani told PTI, adding, Kakodkar will be attending the crucial meeting of the search panel on March 22 to finalise the directors for IIT Bhubaneswar, Patna and Ropar.

Kakodkar's resignation last week came ahead of a crucial meeting of the 12 member search-cum-selection panel of which he is a member. The committee is chaired by Irani.

"I have put down my papers because I want to move ahead," Kakodkar told PTI earlier today but refused to comment on queries whether differences had cropped up between him and the minister over selection of the directors.

Ministry sources claimed that Higher Education Secretary Satya N Mohanty in an e- mail today thanked Kakodkar for withdrawing his resignation, saying IIT Bombay would stand to gain "with your continuance as all of us are proud of your contribution to the institution".

Kakodkar's tenure was to come to an end in May this year. Sources said differences had cropped up between Kakodkar and the Ministry ever since the latter decided to scrap the selection process for IIT directors held in February this year and decided to start afresh the selection process at the insistence of the Minister.

It is understood that 12 candidates were called for being interviewed by the search panel out of the 37 candidates shortlisted for the three IITs directors post, lying vacant for the past three months.

It remained unclear the procedure adopted to invite only the 12 selected candidates. Sources revealed there was consensus on the choice of a new director for IIT Patna and Bhubaneswar but the same eluded in the case of IIT Ropar.

Apparently the name of IIT faculty members such as Sarit Kumar Das and Pushpak Bhattacharya were shortlisted to head IIT Bhubaneswar and IIT Patna respectively.

The differences in the appointment of directors did not remain confined to Kakodkar alone. Senior HRD Ministry official Amarjeet Sinha was also divested from the IIT portfolio and was given a little known statistics department in the Ministry earlier this month because of alleged differences within the Ministry over the appointment process.

Kakodkar's resignation came two months after IIT Delhi director R Shevgaonkar had stepped down from his post in December last year which had triggered a controversy amid reports that there were sharp differences between him and the ministry over certain issues.

His resignation is yet to be accepted. In February this year, A Sethumadhavan resigned as Chairman of National Book Trust claiming that he got a signal from the Centre to quit.

In October, NCERT director Parvin Sinclair, facing charges of financial irregularities, had also put in her papers.

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