Chennai: The appointment of M K Surappa as the vice chancellor of Anna University here has kicked up a political row with the opposition parties in Tamil Nadu questioning his Kannada origin.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are embroiled in a river water dispute with the former demanding the setting up of a management board for the distribution of Cauvery water to implement the February 16 Supreme Court verdict.
The Tamil Nadu government, on its part, said it had nothing to with Surappa’s appointment as it was made by Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
“Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor of Anna University (Purohit) has appointed Dr M K Surappa as Vice Chancellor of Anna University for a period of three years from the date of his assumption of office,” a Raj Bhavan release said.
A former director of IIT Ropar, Surappa, who has a doctorate in Metallurgical Engineering, “enjoys rich teaching experience of more than 30 years, of which 24 years were spent at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru,” the release said.
He had 150 research publications and four patents to his credit, it added.
Opposition parties, including the DMK and the PMK, pointed out that Surappa hailed from Karnataka and questioned if there were no qualified academicians in the state to be appointed as the VC of Anna University.
“At a time when Cauvery protests are raging in Tamil Nadu, the governor appointing Surappa, who is from Karnataka, as the VC of Anna University is not acceptable,” DMK working president and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly M K Stalin said.
In a Facebook post, he said the academicians, who were “sons of the soil should not be belittled” by such appointments.
PMK founder S Ramadoss also voiced opposition to Surappa’s appointment.
“This appointment, which does not respect the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu, is condemnable, should be withdrawn,” he said in a statement.
MDMK founder Vaiko and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan also questioned the appointment.
Vaiko urged for the withdrawal of Surappa’s appointment and said only an academician from Tamil Nadu should be nominated for the coveted post.
Haasan, in a tweet, said, “We asked for water from Karnataka and we get a vice-chancellor from Karnataka instead. The gulf between people and the government cannot be more obvious….”
The ruling AIADMK, however, said it had no role in the appointment since Surappa was selected from a pool of candidates by the governor.
“He has been appointed as the VC from that pool by the governor, who is the chancellor (of the university). Therefore, the government has no role in it,” Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters.
State BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan defended the governor’s move, saying it was an attempt at “cleansing” the university of “corruption”.