New Delhi: Congress on Wednesday launched a sharp attack on HRD Minister Smriti Irani accusing her of "interfering" with autonomy of higher education institutions, following the resignation of eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar as Chairman of Board of Governors of IIT Bombay.
Party spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said "the HRD Minister has become a habitual offender of continuous interference" and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to set it right.
Citing previous resignations from IITs, he said "Anil Kakodkar has resigned from IIT Bombay. It is one more blow to the HRD sector..Last few months have seen a continuous decline. Irani has sought to kill the very basic of independence and autonomy of higher education institutions...
"Absolute incompetence of HRD ministry is destroying institutions. The morale of India's top educational institutions is plummetting. I am anguished at seeing the HRD ministry rotting from the top," Gowda charged.
The remarks of the Congress spokesperson, who is also an academician, came in the wake of reports that Kakodkar resigned apparently because of differences with the HRD Ministry over selection of some IIT Directors.
Kakodkar, whose tenure was supposed to end in May this year has, however, agreed to continue till that period after being persuaded by Smriti Irani who had a long telephonic conversation with him last evening, sources in the ministry said.
Insisting that the HRD sector is in a state of "crisis", the Congress leader also saw a pattern alleging that "interfence" had also happened during the previous BJP-led goverment when Murli Manohar Joshi was HRD minister.
"It is not that it is happening for the first time. It is not that we are seeing this kind of interference during BJP rule for the first time.
"When Murli Manohar Joshi was HRD Minister, he had reduced the independence of IIMs. The story is the same whether it is previous HRD minister or the new one," he said.