Following weeks of controversy among supporters and critics of the Rohani administration in Parliament, Reza Farajidana was finally removed from his position as minister of science following his impeachment in Parliament on Wednesday August 20.
President Rohani, who was in Ardebil as part of his provincial visits, was not present at the session, where his minister lost the confidence of Parliament in a vote of 145 to 110 with 15 abstaining. In a speech in Ardebi however Rohani referred to Farajidana as a scholarly minister and expressed every hope that Parliament would treat him in accordance with the constitution and parliamentary regulations.
Farajidana appeared in Parliament with several members of the cabinet including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Culture Minister Ali Jannati and Oil Minister Bija Zanganeh Namdar.
The conservative factions of the Islamic Republic have been critical of the science minister’s progressive policies in the universities, particularly when he allowed the return of students and faculty members to classes despite their political backgrounds.
Farajidana’s supporters say his impeachment is directly linked to exposure of irregular distribution of bursaries amongst ineligible students in the former administration. Members of parliament did indeed refer to the controversy surrounding the bursaries as an instance of rising tensions under Farajidana’s tenure.
Farajidana did not refer to the issues of bursaries but defended all his actions with statistical reference to calmer atmosphere in the universities and greater focus on scientific growth and research.