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Sunday, Mar 27, 2005
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Dairy & Dairy Products
India's milk capital on boil again I will stay on as long as I want to, says Kurien
Ahmedabad , March 26
"I AM not willing to be pushed out. I may not have too many years of my life left with me, but I am definitely not going to be pushed out. I will stay on as long as I want to." Strong words from the 83-year-old Dr Verghese Kurien, the undisputed `milk-man' of the country whose leadership is being challenged by his very protégés.
Dr Kurien, who is the Chairman of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and the prestigious Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), is at the centre of a new controversy surrounding his reported move to sack the IRMA Director, Prof K. Prathap Reddy.
Prof Reddy, who was hand-picked by Dr Kurien himself and whose term comes to an end in August, has expressed his desire to step down from his post owing to "difficulties of working in a vitiated atmosphere."
While Prof Reddy declined to comment, Dr Kurien says hecan resign if he wants to. "He is free to go if he wants to, nobody will stop him. If he wants to stay on, it would have to be decided by the board," Dr Kurien told Business Line from Anand.
Meanwhile, the continuation of Dr Kurien as the life-long Chairman of IRMA has itself been questioned by the office of the Assistant Charity Commissioner in Anand, saying that it may not be "in public interest." The issue would come up for hearing at the Joint Charity Commissioner's office at Vadodara on Monday.
Dr Kurien described the Assistant Charity Commissioner's notice questioning his continuation as the IRMA Chairman "a mistake."
A three-member committee set up by the IRMA board on February 28 is examining the charges of alleged impropriety against Prof Reddy and the Assistant Charity Commissioner's notice.
The committee consists of the NDDB Chairperson, Ms Amrita Patel, the chief of Hyderabad-based micro-finance institution Basix, Mr Vijay Mahajan, and the Chairman of the Centre of Management Development, Thiruvananthapuram, Dr V. Ramachandran.
Ms Patel, another Dr Kurien protégé who has turned against him, is perceived to be in favour of Prof Reddy, as are the other two members. The committee is likely to submit its preliminary report by March 31.
Mr P.A. Joseph, Executive Assistant to Dr Kurien, questioned the legality of the three-member panel itself, saying that both Mr Mahajan and Dr Ramachandran had ceased to be members of the IRMA board when their two-year term ended on February 15.
In fact, Dr Kurien has filed a caveat with the District Court in Nadiad on March 21 to pre-empt any moves by his rivals to move the courts seeking his removal. The GCMMF Managing Director, Mr B.M. Vyas, filed a similar caveat in the Gujarat High Court on the same day.
"The Member Secretary of the IRMA Board and ex-officio Institute Director (Dr Reddy), did not bring it to the notice of the Chairman (Dr Kurien) that the five members' term had already expired and as per the existing rules, they could not be granted an automatic extension. Any decision taken by the board meeting on February 28, is not valid," alleges Mr Joseph. Incidentally, the minutes of the meeting are yet to be finalised.
The rival camp has called another meeting of the IRMA board on April 1, which Mr Joseph says it can only be an "informal" meeting, as the Chairman has not convened it. The board would meet again on April 15 for convocation formalities. The controversy is likely to figure prominently in both these meetings.
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