The central government’s decision to remove prominent psephologist Yogendra Yadav from the University Grants Commission (UGC) for joining the Aam Aadmi Party is a travesty of democracy and the rights of an individual to freely express his or her political opinions.
The claim that Yadav’s ‘association with the UGC’, after his joining the AAP, ‘may not only set a dangerous precedent but may even give scope for future politicisation of the UGC and its academic decision making’ is utter bunkum, given the body is already full of people representing, actively advocating or supporting various political parties and their factions.
Yadav, an important public intellectual and a household name, given his dexterity with pre-election politics of striking alliances, and as well as his proven accuracy with numbers, especially the seats that could be won by parties and candidates at both the smaller and larger levels of electoral games, was served the show cause notice on 4 September by the ministry of human resource and development, citing ‘conflict of interest’ over his ‘altered’ credentials.
Since there is nothing in the UGC Act that bars members of the body from being an active member of a political party, it could be inferred that Yadav’s removal was in fact politically motivated. Is it because Yadav was a vocal critic of the four year undergraduate programme that DU has started off, or is it because joining AAP was antagonistic to the interests of the existing members of UGC, who, traditionally, are either Congress or BJP supporters.
Would the UGC have reacted the same way had a member joined the Congress or BJP, and would the lawmakers be eager to pick out the audacious invidual balancing public politics and politics of public sphere with equal panache, had their fortresses been breached? Clearly, this is is a case of undemocratic and downright unfair targeting of a potential political opposition.