Remember our report way back in February this year on how the former HRD Minister Smriti Irani had insulted the Aligarh Muslim University’s Vice Chancellor, Lt Gen (Retd) Zameeruddin Shah.
Lt Gen Shah has finally broken his silence and confirmed that Irani had indeed insulted and asked him to leave the room.
A news website had made desperate attempts to discredit our reporting by quoting a purported denial from Gen Shah.
Now Shah has told Indian Express that the Irani had indeed insulted him on 8 January, thereby vindicating our journalism.
Shah said, “The way Smriti Irani behaved with me, told her later that I didn’t appreciate it.”
Shah also said that he made several attempts to seek appointment with the minister for one year but could not be successful adding that the HRD ministers in the past were very cordial.
Shah refused to comment on the reason for Irani’s removal from the HRD ministry, but said that the person at the help must have understanding of teachers and education.
In February, we had reported how Irani threatened to close down the Aligarh Muslim University campuses while publicly chiding the Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (Retd) Zameeruddin Shah.
A delegation by Kerala ministers, MPs and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had met Irani in her office in Delhi on 8 January seeking her support for the AMU centre in Malappuram district.
Irani had minced no words in expressing her displeasure over the proposal to set up an off campus centre for the AMU in Kerala.
She had told them bluntly, “This centre and other AMU centres were established without any legal sanction, hence they all will be closed down.”
A visibly angry Irani said, “How you start a centre like this?…What authority the VC has to take such an action. We are not going to give money.” There was no need for the AMU centres. I am going to close them down. We will not give any grant for this purpose.”
Chandy reminded her that the state government had already allocated 345 acres of land in Perinthalmanna taluk of Malappuram district with an intention to create a full-fledged AMU centre.
Irani shot back, “Take it back!”
It was the same time the VC Gen Shah walked into the room.
Irani asked him, “Why have you come?”
“Ma’am, I have come at the invitation of the Kerala Chief Minister,” explained Gen Shah.
Irani thundered, making it absolutely clear who the boss was here.
“Who pays your salary? Kerala CM or the HRD Ministry? Go back and sit in your room!”
While the humiliated VC made a hasty exit, a stunned CM and his delegation looked on in utter disbelief.
A week later on 14 January, Irani once again met Chandy, but this time in Trivandrum. By then a BJP delegation had reportedly visited the proposed site of the AMU Centre.
Irani reiterated her stand and told Chandy, “We will not give you anything extra!”