Chennai, Apr 7 (PTI) The Raj Bhavan today asserted that a “fair and transparent” process was followed in the selection of M K Surappa as vice-chancellor of the Anna University here.

It also urged that there be no politics and “mud-slinging” over his appointment.

The clarification came after Surappa’s appointment by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit triggered a political row over the former’s Kannada origin.

Opposition parties, including the DMK, had questioned Surappa being chosen as the vice-chancellor of the premier technical varsity in the Tamil Nadu capital.

“The whole process was fair and transparent. The welfare of Anna University and engineering colleges affiliated to the university, faculty and the students was kept in mind when making the selection,” the Raj Bhavan said.

There was no “extraneous interference” in the selection process, it said.

“Since the choice of the vice-chancellor was done entirely in accordance with the statute, it is requested that politics be kept out and unnecessary mud-slinging be avoided,” the Governor’s office said in a statement.

The statement said that when Purohit assumed charge in October 2017, six varsities, including the Anna University, were without vice chancellors.

Since then, the appointment of VCs has been completed for five universities, with the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports university being the lone exception.

The name of the government’s nominee to be included as a Member of the Search Committee has not been received from the Youth Welfare and Sports Development department for this varsity, it said.

On the Anna University V-C selection process, it said a Search Committee consisting of three members was constituted and it short listed nine candidates for interaction with the panel.

It later prepared a panel of three candidates and submitted the same to Purohit, also the chancellor of the university, on March 31, 2018, the statement said.

Based on this, interviews were fixed for the three shortlisted candidates– Dr H Devaraj, Dr S Ponnusamy and Surappa, “all from the Backward Classes category,” on April 5, it said.

While Surappa is a former director of IIT, Ropar, Ponnusamy has been the head of the Chennai unit of the Indian Statistical Institute and H Devaraj is a former vice chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

“The academic, teaching, research and administrative attainments of the three candidates were examined in detail by the chancellor (Purohit) from March 31 to April 5, 2018,” the statement said.

Soon after completion of the interview of the three candidates on April 5, the result was declared, it said, referring to appointment of Surappa.

“The selection was purely based on the need for Anna University to have at its helm of affairs, a vice-chancellor who understands the needs of technical education in Tamil Nadu to steer the future of the university, faculty and the students in the most suitable manner,” the statement said.

“The selection has been done in accordance with the laid down statutes. The selection was done from out of the list of three candidates submitted by the Search Committee,” it said.

The search panel consisted of “illustrious personalities,” including former Supreme Court Judge V P Sirpurkar, the statement said.

Surappa’s appointment as V-C had earlier kicked up a political row with opposition parties questioning his Kannada origin.

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are embroiled in a river water dispute, with the former demanding setting up of a management board for distribution of Cauvery water for implementing the February 16 Supreme Court verdict.

Opposition parties, including DMK, claimed Surappa hailed from Karnataka and questioned if there were no qualified academicians in the state to be appointed as V-C.

“At a time when Cauvery protests are raging in Tamil Nadu, the Governor appointing Surappa, who is from Karnataka, as V-C of Anna University is not acceptable,” DMK working President and leader of Opposition M K Stalin had said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.