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The party 'appointment fiestas' flouting norms

camera_altKerala Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram

Some of the controversial decisions taken by the previous Kerala government under chief minister Oommen Chandy at the fag end of its term, had come to be seen as pure graft by the court, the opposition and the media alike. They were decisions designed to apportion water resources, farm land and mines to the government's favourites through flagrant violations of law. Although the government was forced to withdraw at least some of them thanks to media exposes and court interventions, the controversy got decisively reflected against the incumbent government in the assembly election that followed. In a way, Pinarayi Vijayan's path to power as chief minister was made easier by those decisions. Such drastic steps were largely routine at earlier times too: a repetitive exercise indulged in by all ministries towards the end of their term. What usually get regularised through such steps are out-of-the-way appointments to favourites and relatives, sell off of government land flouting all rules or leasing them out without clear and well-defined terms, and approvals for constructions and mining in violation of environmental regulations. The present situation makes one wonder if the Pinarayi government is also treading the same path. For, the latest reports from the capital tell us about behind-the-curtain moves to fill government institutions with political loyalists through 'party appointment fiestas'.

It can easily be guessed who all will be the losers in these appointments made without qualification criteria and reservation principles. And the appointments will also cost the exchequer dear. When higher secondary school seats increase in the government, aided and unaided sectors, it may not be necessary to keep all the posts in the mechanisms like SCOLE Kerala, as done before. But it is for the same vacancies that all these postings are made. So is it with Literacy Mission. And they will result in nothing but extra expenditure, and there will be no benefit to the state apart from what the relatives of leaders and party followers in the form of a permanent job will gain. It is at the same time when the public look forward to PSC that this party-pleasing process keeps happening. It amounts to scoffing at the tens of thousands of candidates lining up before PSC for a job. It would only be an act of democratic decorum to deist from such an inconsiderate act. Pinarayi's government also will have a lesson to learn from how the people rewarded the Oommen Chandy government for its ill-advised moves.

With only a few months left in the term of the current cabinet, moves have started in several other departments and institutions as well for such 'party appointments'. In the state Literacy Mission, over 80 candidates are reportedly lined up for back-door appointments. Reports also speak about autonomous institutions like the Kerala Language Institute also bracing up for recruitment fiestas. The tactic adopted in all agencies is to first appoint favourites on contract basis, and then to make them permanent with the blessing of the cabinet. Most importantly, such short-cut appointments are made for posts reported to the PSC for regular recruitment.

In spite of a High Court order to stop the decision to make permanent the appointments to Kerala Library Council en bloc, similar appointments are happening in many other departments. The most recent round of such appointments from party cadre that has come to light is in SCOLE Kerala (State Council for Open and Lifelong Education), under the Education department and in the Printing Department under Public Administration. In SCOLE Kerala (the current entity that replaced the erstwhile Open School), the ones that are tipped to get permanent appointment - with the knowledge of the Education Minister - are those who have worked in it for ten years on contract basis. But many of those have not completed the said ten years either; many had entered service during the tenure of MA Baby as education minister, and had gone on strike for two years on the issue of contract appointments. Even this period of two years of strike is now being reckoned as service period to make up ten years, and thus to make them eligible for permanent posting. The backdoor recruitment in Printing Department is not much different. The beneficiaries of these appointments are mostly relatives of the state leaders of the CPI-M and its youth wing DYFI. As a matter of fact, all these posts are to be filled by Public Service Commission (PSC) through a prescribed recruitment process. Unfortunately, this public institution meant for recruitments, is turned into a silent spectator. Thus the steps by the ruling establishment amounts to nothing but a betrayal of the educated job-seeking youth of the state.

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TAGS:Pinarayi govt appointments SCOLE Kerala contract appointments into permanent Library Council 
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