GUNTUR: Professor Appa Rao Podile, who is in the eye of the Rohith Vemula storm, is where he is today because of his political connections, networking abilities and great lobbying skills, allege many in academic circles.
Appa Rao outsmarted more than 35 candidates who wanted to head the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and became the vice-chancellor in September 2015, thanks to strong backing from Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, they say.
A native of Thullur village in the new capital city area of Andhra Pradesh, Appa Rao has been with UoH for the past two decades. He served as chief warden from 2001 to 2004 when Chandrababu Naidu was at the helm of affairs of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
Sources said it was Venkaiah who had pushed Appa Rao’s name for the top post in UoH to HRD minister Smriti Irani. “Prof Appa Rao defines the very meaning of a political appointee. He got his bearings thanks to Venkaiah Naidu’s blessings,” said Krishna Sagar, an alumnus of Guntur’s Hindu College, from where Rao graduated.
The VC post had fallen vacant after Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, a UPA appointee, quit months after the BJP-led NDA government took over the reins in in 2014. After dilly-dallying for almost a year, the HRD minister named Rao, who is from the Kamma caste, as VC for five years.
But the sources said Appa Rao, who is a relative of a former TDP MP-cum-lobbyist from AP, built a network with Venkaiah to bag the coveted post. Chandrababu too is believed to have backed Rao’s name, thanks to hectic lobbying from the latter’s relatives. Sources said Rao has always maintained good equations with the TDP brass and is believed to have supported the party during the elections by roping in his relatives and friends.
Hyderabad scholar death: UoH failed to stem the rot, says probe team
The team finds strong resentment against vice-chancellor on campus.
Hyderabad: The two-member fact-finding committee sent by the Union HRD ministry to probe the suicide of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad is learnt to have found fault with the university administration for its inept handling of the students’ suspension issue, which triggered unrest on the campus for the past four months.
The committee is expected to submit its report to the ministry by Saturday. Based on this report, the ministry is likely to sack Prof. Appa Rao Podile as vice-chancellor. Prof. Appa Rao took over as VC only in September 2014 and if suspended he would become the VC with the shortest tenure at the UoH. His six-year term is set to end in 2020.
The committee is said to have felt that there is strong resentment against Prof. Appa Rao among dalit students ever since his tenure as chief warden in the campus between 2001 and 2004. Prof. Appa Rao’s tenure as chief warden was also mired in controversy as he faced similar allegations of discriminating against Dalit students in hostels and messes, which led to suspension of a few Dalit students and violent incidents on the campus then.