'I will restore the authority of Vice-Chancellors'

'I will restore the authority of Vice-Chancellors'

He had an eventful career as a Union law minister for long and kept himself busy. He found time to author three books on law. Two more books will be released soon.
Bhardwaj is highly articulate when it comes to expressing his thoughts. He has no hesitation in admitting that he is a controversial man. He spoke to Asha Krishnaswamy of Deccan Herald. Excerpts:

You were busy as Union law minister till May this year. Now being confined to Raj Bhavan do you feel isolated?
I used to work for 18 hours a day. Now I am not that busy. A handful of files comes to me and I attend to them immediately. But I know how to keep myself busy. I have begun writing.
It is said that you could not make it to the Union cabinet this time as you have fallen out of grace of the Gandhi family...
I am a self-made man. My association with the Gandhi family goes back to Indira Gandhi’s time. I share a special bond with that family, which nobody knows. I had counselled Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay. Without the blessings of the Gandhi family I would not have been here. I will be in politics as long as the Gandhi family needs me. If they decide not to continue me, then I will pick my black coat. I and my wife will continue our practice in court. But now, for me, politics is almost over. I am in a non-political office. I will do my best. I will meet professors, judges, advcoates and journalists. The doors of Raj Bhavan are open to the public. I don’t meet any Congress leaders on a personal basis. I want to maintain neutrality.

Then why are you not in the ministry?

I was told that the Gandhi family wanted to utilise my services here. I hesitated to accept the post because of my temperament. But I could not disobey the PM and the Congress president. May be, the party did not accommodate me fearing that I may create controversy. It is a fact that I am a controversial man.
I was a successful law minister. I was responsible for establishing world class law schools in India. But some people had prejudice against me because I was a successful minister. Even today I am saleable in courts.

Would you like to be identified as a pro-active governor?

No. My role is limited. I will go by the Constitution. I will work within my limits.

As a chancellor, how do you assess the state universities?

Mysore university is performing very well. And, every university in the state should be of that standard. I have decided to restore the authority of vice-chancellors. Only merit should matter while selecting VCs. Every VC should be appointed by an experts’ committee. I will not allow the government to intervene in appointments. Don’t you think improper appointments will affect the quality of education?

As a law minister you were identified as a performer...

Yes. I will be a performer even as governor. But now I have a different responsibility. There is a government headed by a chief minister here. I am nominated by the President of India. My role is to ensure that the government functions according to the Constitution. I have an advisory role to play on certain matters. And, I will do that amply.
We need to take life as it comes. I will try to create work for myself. Many educational institutions keep calling me for their functions. I would like to get associated with programmes which aim at spreading education. So this ceremonial life of a governor will not satisfy me. Because I used to work for 18 hours a day. And, of the 18 hours now I sleep more (laughs).

In the last two months, did you ever get an opportunity to advice the

Yes. There were tense moments on certain occasions over law and order and I did talk to the government. I have conveyed my opinion in appropriate terms.

Raj Bhavan is a colonial inheritance. Do we need to spend tax payers’ money to meet the expenses of a governor for his extravagance?

Raj Bhavan may be a colonial building. But governor is part of the Constitution. In a federal structure like ours, a governor has an important role to play in maintaining the unity of the country. The founding fathers of our Constitution must have well thought out the role of a governor. I feel that today Raj Bhavan has an important role to play. But my requirement is minimal. All I and my wife (Prafulata, an advocate) require is just a single room to live.

Still, a governor’s post is dubbed as a retirement post for a politician. Do you still foresee any role to play in politics?

Nobody can become an ex-politician by being in a political party. Somebody has to be appointed for the post — it could be a retired police officer or a retired IAS officer. I have been appointed for a full five year term at the pleasure of the President. Then how can it be a retirement for me?

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