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Dr Soch may get extension
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Though several candidates are in the run for the vice-chancellorship of Guru Nanak Dev University, according to indications available at the official level, Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch is likely to get extension for one more year as Vice-Chancellor.

Other candidates in the race are said to be Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, Mr Jaswant Singh Phull, a former Principal, Khalsa College, Delhi, Mr M.S. Dhillon, Principal, Khalsa College, Amritsar, Prof S.S. Bhatti and Prof Hardev Singh Virk.

Dr Soch will complete his present term as Vice-Chancellor on July 22.

A top official of the Education Department said today that he had forwarded the name of Dr Soch for another extension of one year to him as Vice-Chancellor. He said the relevant file had been sent to the Chief Ministerís office for appropriate action. The file might be put before the Chief Minister when he arrived in Delhi on July 21 from the USA.

However, there is no official confirmation of this move from the office of the Chief Minister. Once the name is approved by the Chief Minister, the file will be sent to the Punjab Governor, who is the Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, for taking the final decision.

The official said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had himself directed the Education Department to prepare the case of Dr Soch for extension.

Dr Soch was appointed Vice-Chancellor for three years in July, 1996, when Mr Harcharan Singh Brar was the Chief Minister of Punjab. The Badal government gave him extension for one year in July, 1999 and for another year in July, 2000.

Notwithstanding the forwarding of the name of Dr Soch for another term to the Chief Minister, intense lobbying is on in the corridors of power for this post by certain other candidates. Mr Jaswant Singh Phull is pushing his case. He is a political heavyweight and has the strong support of certain Akali leaders who are known to be close to Mr Badal in Delhi. Mr M.S. Dhillon has also the strong political backing of Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majithia, a member of Rajya Sabha. Prof S.S. Bhatti, according to sources, has the backing of the Kairon family while and Mr Hardev Singh Virk has the support of Mr Harnarinder Singh Kuku, MLA from Muktsar, who is very close to Mr Badal.

A race is also on for the two posts of Pro-Vice-Chancellor in Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University. At both places the posts are vacant. Mr R.M. Goel, who was the Pro-VC in Punjabi University retired recently. Dr Inderpal Singh, who was the Pro-VC in Guru Nanak Dev University, retired some months ago.

Informed sources said that of the two vacant posts of Pro-VC, one had been claimed by the BJP, a coalition partner of the SAD in Punjab as well as at the Centre. Sources said the president of the state BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, had taken up this issue with Mr Badal shortly before the latterís departure for the USA.

Sources said that the BJP had recommended the name of Mr R.N. Paul, Professor in the Political Science Department of Punjabi University, for one of the posts of Pro-VC. However, certain senior leaders of the BJP are also lobbying for Dr M.P. Kohli, a scholar who commands respect among the intelligentsia in this part of the country.

Others in the run for the posts of Pro-VC are Mr Dalbir Singh Dhillon and Mr S.P. Singh. Mr Dhillon, is a Professor in the History Department of Punjabi University. He is also the Dean, Colleges Welfare, in that university. He is said to have the backing of Mr Sukhbir Badal, son of the Punjab Chief Minister. The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University has also a soft spot for him.

Dr S.P. Singh, is the Dean, Colleges Welfare, Guru Nanak Dev University. A Jalandhar-based journalist has pleaded his case for the post of Pro-VC with Mr Badal.
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