The Bihar Governor allows a favourite to officiate as VC of four universities

Fagu Chauhan has been accused of favouring two Lucknow based firms in university supply contracts also. As clamour grows for an inquiry, chief minister Nitish Kumar looks the other way

The Bihar Governor allows a favourite to officiate as VC of four universities

AJ Prabal

His Excellency Fagu Chauhan has “many business profession such as Transformer Factory and cold stories (sic). He is also the richest politician in Mau district, even richer than Mukhtar Ansari...”, read a description of the Bihar Governor on the Pataliputra University website in September 2019.

The bizarre citation with atrocious spellings and grammar was hastily removed but not before people began asking, who is Fagu Chauhan? Did he or his office approve the citation?

‘The richest politician in Mau’ is again in trouble with an RTI activist gunning for him. Chauhan and his three sons (he also has four daughters) are being accused of using his position as Chancellor of the 17 universities in Bihar to make appointments and award tenders to people and firms back home in Uttar Pradesh.

Nine universities out of 17 in Bihar have ‘academics’ from Uttar Pradesh as the Vice Chancellors, points out Rohit Kumar. One of them has been appointed the VC of as many as four universities ‘as a temporary arrangement’ and another is officiating as the Vice Chancellor in two.

The RTI activist from Madhubani has been demanding an inquiry but neither the PMO nor Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have paid him much attention.

Kumar has now sent yet another letter with annexures to the PMO for the ‘PM’s eyes only’. The trend of appointing unqualified, tainted and corrupt academics as vice chancellors, Kumar concedes, precedes the appointment of Fagu Chauhan, the former BJP MLA from Ghosi and state minister, as Governor of Bihar in 2019. But under Chauhan, he says, it is no longer confined to the appointment of vice chancellors and has extended to financial matters.

1. In March 2021, the Registrar, the Financial Advisor and the Finance Officer of Magadh wrote a joint letter to the Chancellor alleging that they were being pressurized by the Vice Chancellor to clear disputed payments worth Rs. 16 Crore to two Lucknow-based firms.

The firms, the joint letter stated, were facing charges of financial irregularities and corruption. A PIL against the firms was pending before the High Court and the previous Chancellor too had ordered an inquiry. The three officials alleged that they were summoned to his residence by the VC who threatened to replace them if they failed to comply. The two firms were named as Infolink Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd. and XLICT Pvt Ltd., Lucknow.

The Chancellor acted by dismissing the Registrar for ‘unlawful activities’ without specifying them. He got the Financial Advisor transferred to Bhagalpur from Gaya. And the Finance Officer resigned in April, saying he did not find the atmosphere conducive for working.

Kumar alleges that the two Lucknow-based enterprises are proxy firms of powerful politicians and a full inquiry should reveal how much they have been paid by the universities in Bihar and who have stakes in them.

2. The Chancellor has allowed the VC of LNM University at Darbhanga, Surendra Pratap Singh, to officiate as the Vice Chancellor of three other universities in Patna, namely Patliputra University, MMH Arabic and Persian University and Aryabhatta Knowledge University, which is a technical university with all medical and engineering colleges affiliated to it.

3. The Vice Chancellor of Bihar University, Muzaffarpur has also been allowed to officiate as the VC of Nalanda Open University based in Patna.

Chauhan, a prominent OBC face from Azamgarh, has represented Charan Singh-led DMKP, Janata Dal, BSP as well as BJP in the UP Assembly. He also served as minister under both Mayawati and Rajnath Singh but was denied a ministerial berth by Adityanath in 2017.

The joke circulating in Bihar, says a retired professor, is that if someone wants to be appointed in Bihar universities, they must submit papers and the paperweight. Heavier the paperweight, better the chances.

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