On 30th May, CM Uddhav Thackeray announced, "Final year exams will not be conducted due to the coronavirus situation and students will be given average marks of the aggregate scores of previous semesters. Students who are not satisfied with their marks will be given an option of appearing for exams later whenever possible depending on the situation."
This decision is bound to go down well with the student community of Maharashtra, since it clears the air of confusion they find themselves in. Moreover, putting students under the pressure of exams, in times when life hasn't been fair to anyone in the last few months is uncalled for. Ideally, this decision should have been welcomed by all parties and leaders. But we live in a polarised atmosphere where the dominant party’s appetite and skill to topple existing governments is well acknowledged.
On Tuesday, Senior BJP leader and MLA, Ashish Shelar, met the governor and requested him to conduct the exams for the final year students, without which they will be labeled as ‘Corona Graduates’. After the meeting, the Governor, BS Koshiyari wrote a letter to the CM describing his announcement as ‘unprecedented’ and made ‘without any profound thinking on the legal repercussions’. He also said this decision of cancelling exams will jeopardize the future of the students.
Maharashtra is the worst affected state with over 74,000 COVID-19 cases. Moreover, Mumbai and Pune, two cities that are the educational hub of the state are severely affected. There is a fear amongst the student community to return to their colleges in the near future. Though the government's decision to scrap examination is populist in nature, it also needs to be seen in light of the anxiety everyone is going through in society. The final year students are graduating at a challenging time when unemployment is at its peak. The scraping of exams will enable them to explore career options and opportunities that lie ahead.Cancelling exams will jeopardise future of students: Maha Guv Bhagat Singh Koshyari tells Uddhav Thackeray
BJP’s decision to oppose the government’s decision in this context, via the governor, is reflective of the political immaturity of its State unit. While the BJP has been aggressively critical of the MVA government, the Governor has time and again acted on the memorandum and requests made by the BJP leaders. But this time despite the provisions of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, which empower the governor to issue directions he may think are in the larger interest of the students and the university, the CM announced his decision, owning to the confidence that any opposition from the BJP would be self-destructive. And the BJP fell into the trap.
Since the formation of the MVA government, and even before that, the Governor’s role has come under severe criticism. He has been criticised for creating a parallel governance structure in the state, by issuing direct instructions to the bureaucrats. Senior NCP leader, Sharad Pawar in a meeting with PM Modi raised this issue. Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Raut, through the party's mouthpiece also targeted the Governor on the concerning issue.
In the month of April, the Governor chose to ignore Deputy CM Ajit Pawar’s recommendation to nominate CM Uddhav Thackeray to the Upper house of the state legislature. He later requested the Election Commission to conduct elections only after Uddhav Thackeray escalated the issue to the Prime Minister. As the government recently completed 6 months, the BJP state unit has time and again tried to destabilise the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government, either by using the office of Governor, or by trying to capitalise upon the differences between the three parties.Set aside political egos during Covid crisis says Maharashtra Governor after state government cancels university exams
Regular meetings of the BJP leaders with the Governor, sometimes to complain about the shortcomings and negligence of the MVA government, or to recommend the imposition of the President's rule, has created an atmosphere of uncertainty over the future of the MVA government. Acting on some of those requests, the Governor has held meetings with the chief secretaries involved in managing the COVID crisis, to take an update on the situation of the state. The CM did not attend a meeting convened by the Governor recently. This has dragged the office of Governor to the arena of day to day politics, which is undesirable for any state.
While the political temperature of the state has risen, a recent survey conducted by C-Voter ranked Uddhav Thackeray as one of the most popular CMs in India. Amidst increasing COVID-19 cases and attempts to topple his government, he has carved a niche for himself in the politics of the state. Even after cancelling exams of final year students, Uddhav Thackeray is perhaps facing the toughest exam of his political career. Whether he proves to be a successful CM or not, only time will tell, but actions that seem overtly political in these times, definitely won't go down well with the people of Maharashtra.
-The Authors are Political Analysts, and former employees of I-PACCM Thackeray stood his ground on university exams issue: Shiv Sena
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