The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government on Thursday amended the rules of Kerala Kalamandalam, a deemed-to-be-university for art and culture, to remove Governor Arif Mohammed Khan as its chancellor, PTI reported.

The move came amid the Left Democratic Front government’s escalating confrontation with Khan on the administration of state universities. The state Cabinet has decided to request Khan to promulgate an ordinance removing him as the sole chancellor of the universities, so that renowned academicians can be appointed to the post.

On Thursday evening, the government issued an order amending the rules of Kerala Kalamandalam to facilitate the appointment of an eminent person of its choice from the field of art and culture as the chancellor.

“The governance system and management structure of Kerala Kalamandalam shall be in accordance with the decision of the government of Kerala,” the order said.

The state government amended Clause 4.25.0 of the rules and introduced the provision that the chancellor of the university would be the “chancellor appointed by the sponsoring body”.

The governance system and management structure shall be decided by the Kerala government, the order stated, adding that rules and orders for this will be issued as and when the occasion arises.

According to the order, the tenure of the chancellor shall be for five years from the date of assuming the post. The person shall be eligible for reappointment for one more term. But, the government said no person shall be eligible to hold the office of the chancellor at Kerala Kalamandalam on attaining the age of 75 years.

The amended rules also said that “in the absence of the chancellor or during his ability to act, the pro chancellor shall exercise all the powers and perform all the functions of the chancellor”.

Governor vs vice chancellors

On October 23, a controversy had erupted after Khan directed vice chancellors of nine state-run universities to submit their resignations, citing a Supreme Court verdict. The vice chancellors challenged the order in the High Court.

On October 24, the High Court allowed the vice chancellors to continue in their positions till a final order on the matter is passed by the governor on the basis of show cause notices.

At another hearing on Tuesday, the court directed Khan not to act against the vice chancellors to whom he had sent show cause notices until the judge hears the case.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had accusing Khan of being a tool of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and alleged that the governor was waging a war with an intention to destroy universities in the state.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is the main constituent of the ruling Left Democratic Alliance, had also alleged that the governor’s action was a “Sangh Parivar conspiracy to weaken Kerala’s resistance against the saffronisation of the education sector”.