The Kerala Cabinet which met on Monday morning decided not to take a decision on demands of rank holders in the priority list drawn up by the State Public Service Commission (PSC) for government jobs and engaged in protests against alleged ‘backdoor appointments’ to ‘cronies’ of the ruling dispensation.
The alternating LDF and UDF governments have variously been accused of regularisation of temporary workers during their rule to keep a formidable vote bank in the government cadre in good humour. With Assembly elections nearing, the state has witnessed hundreds of such regularisations in various departments and corporations with most beneficiaries allegedly having links with the ruling CPI(M).
Too big numbers to ignore
The numbers involved here are too big for the ruling dispensation of the day to ignore. The government has 5.28 lakh employees on the rolls with an estimated 20,000 retiring every year. The concerned department is bound to fill any vacancy being from the rank list prepared by the PSC.
In case there is no valid rank list to draw from, it can recruit temporary hands from the employment exchanges in all districts where 34 lakh youths have registered for jobs. The PSC too is notified about the vacancy which, on its part, is expected to set off the recruitment process to fill the post.
But these requirements are mostly observed in their breach with the very department concerned failing to report the vacancy to the PSC. This clears the ground for wheeler dealers in the corridors of power to ‘fix’ the vacancies with nominees of ruling political parties on a temporary basis.
Last grade servants’ cadre
Meanwhile, the Last Grade Servant rank holders have decided to hold a fasting protest from February 22 onwards if the government continues to refuse to accede to their demands. They allege that the government is trying to push even more regularisations before elections to the Assembly are notified.
Among the demands placed by the protesters, the government is reported to have agreed on three things — reporting unfulfilled vacancies for last grade servant posts in various departments, conducting appointments to promotion posts, and filling compassionate appointment slots sans claimants so far.
But they refuse to call off protests since their primary demand of jobs had not been met after the government failed to create posts where temporary staff is being regularised. Some of the protesters have already brought their family to the protest area in front of the Government Secretariat.
Inciting youth backlash
Meanwhile, the controversy over backdoor appointments seems to have been timed well to incite a youth backlash against the ruling Left Democratic Front government. The Opposition Congress and BJP have already jumped into the scene to win over the disgruntled protesters to their side as polls draw near.
Agitation by PSC rank holders has taken worrying turns at times with some of the youth threatening to take their own lives at the protest site. A few had climbed a tall building nearby and threatened to jump down. In another incident, the police narrowly foiled an attempt by a protester to set himself on fire.
Meanwhile Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said the agitation was politically motivated. No government could hope to appoint every person in the PSC rank list. Industries Minister EP Jayarajan said it was the sense of compassion that had prompted the government to regularise contract employees.