Row over Bhardwaj’s stand on doctorate

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BANGALORE - Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj is caught in a row over his refusal to accept Bangalore University’s decision to give an honorary doctorate to a noted Kannada scholar known for his right-wing views.

Bhardwaj Sunday justified his decision saying as the chancellor of the universities and as head of the state, he was “duty bound’ to verify the antecedents of people to be honoured to avoid controversies.

Several leading Kannada writers, including Jnanpith award winner U.R. Ananthamurthy, have slammed Bhardwaj for not approving the Bangalore University proposal to give honorary doctorate to M. Chidananda Murthy, well-known in Karantaka for his research into the history of Kannada language and Karnataka.

“I do no agree with several views of Murthy but the governor’s action is unjust and unacceptable,” Ananthamurthy said Saturday, addressing the 77th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (Kannada literary convention) here.

“I am not well, but still I came here to express my views about the governor’s decision,” the Jnanpith awardee said.

Bhardwaj, however, said “I am doing my duty.”

“I have not rejected the university proposal, but only temporarily withheld approval as the gentleman had expressed communal views,” he told reporters on the margins of a function here, reacting to the Kannada writers’ criticisim.

Murthy had welcomed the recent report of a judicial panel absolving the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the government and Hindu groups of the series of attacks on churches in Karnataka in 2008.

He had been speaking against alleged conversion activities by Christian groups.

Bhardwaj said he was “disturbed” by such statements as the Christian community “felt let down” by the judicial panel headed by B.K. Somashekara, a retired judge of the Karnataka high court.

“I have not seen the Somashekara commission report as I have received only a synopsis of it. I am disturbed. The Christian community is disturbed. Hence I do not want to create another controversy (by accepting the varsity proposal to honour Murthy),” Bhardwaj said.

Reacting to Bhardwaj’s explanation, Murthy said he had criticised the attacks on churches. “But I do speak against attempts at conversion,” he said.

Bangalore Archbishop Bernard Moras had said Saturday that “the entire Christian community rejects” the Somashekara commission report and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the attacks.

The Congress and Janata Dal-Secular have also criticised the commission’s report and urged the Bharatiya Janata Party government not to accept it.

Justice Somashekara submitted the report Jan 28.

Filed under: Politics

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