Has Bihar really got two Central Universities or is it that the Centre as well as the state government have, once again, played a game to befool the people of Bihar? If this is a reward to Nitish Kumar for supporting Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature, as the media has widely been reportings, may one ask as to how can a central university be used as a carrot to woo a regional satrap for sheer political gain?
The truth is that both Kapil Sibal and Nitish Kumar were adamant on Gaya and Motihari respectively. So how can they be declared as winners. While Kapil was arguing for CUB in Gaya and not in Motihari––in fact the Centre even got defence ministry land for this purpose––Nitish repeatedly insisted on CUB in Motihari. He even ridiculed the argument given in favour of Gaya that it has better air, road and rail connectivity by stating that Oxford and Cambridge had no airport at the time of their establishment.
The truth is that it was Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and BJP state chief, Dr C P Thakur, who proposed that there should be central universities in both the places. Besides, they demanded that Patna University be elevated to the status of central university. While Dr Thakur asked that if UP can have half a dozen central universities why Bihar can not have four? On the other hand Lalu undertook a Yatra from Motihari to Gaya to press his demands for CUB in both the places.
The media underplayed these developments and gave more coverage to the war of words between Nitish Kumar and Kapil Sibal as they make good stories.
Now may one ask as to what has suddenly changed? The Congress-led UPA, by accepting the state government’s demand offered a face-saving formula to Nitish Kumar, who many thought had lost the battle of CUB after the Centre virtually gave a green signal to start class in Gaya this year. Now it has been postponed.
If the people of Bihar are not showing much enthusiasm over the announcement made by Kapil Sibal they have reason to feel so. They know what happened to the off-campus branch of the Aligarh Muslim University, which was initially proposed at Katihar. Nitish virtually forced the Centre to shift it to Kishanganj and more than three years were lost in the wrangling and in getting land from the state government and that too after a prolong struggle.
Another example is Nalanda International University, a brainchild of former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. Now he is no more associated with it as he had resigned from the post of Visitor last year. Even his resignation did not become a news anywhere in Bihar.
It has a Vice Chancellor too, Gopa Sabharwal. But she functions from her office in New Delhi yet the chief minister of the state, who wastes no time in demanding special status for Bihar, never raises the issue. More than three years have been lost yet the Nalanda International University is far away from becoming a reality. This notwithstanding the fact that it is to come up in chief minister’s home district. Perhaps he is more serious in shifting Patna airport there.
The IIT Patna got land at Bihta near Patna from the state government so late that four years have passed yet it is functioning from a makeshift building in the state capital.
The NIT Patna is still in its old campus notwithstanding the fact that it has come up eight years back. Once again the tussle over land was the main issue behind this inordinate delay.
What the people of Bihar now pray is that the two Central Universities at Gaya and Motihari really become centres of excellence. Otherwise, perhaps there is no need for them as there are enough of varsities in the state.