Kerala assembly: Day 1 proceedings cut short after debate on 'backdoor appointments' turns sour

This is the first Assembly session led by Speaker A N Shamseer. Photo: Manorama.

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Legislative Assembly's seventh session kick-started on Monday with a ruckus over the alleged 'back-door appointments' in the State.

The fourth one this year, this Assembly session is scheduled from December 5 to 15.

This is the first session led by Speaker AN Shamseer.

On Monday, Kundara MLA PC Vishnunadh raised the issue of 'backdoor appointments' in the Assembly.  He cited the case of  Nisha Balakrishnan from Chavara in Kollam, who failed to secure a government job after an official at the Urban Affairs Directorate in Thiruvananthapuram reported a vacancy to the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) exactly at midnight on the day the validity of her rank-list expired. The PSC had refused to send Nisha an appointment order saying that the email from Urban Affairs Directorate was received four seconds after midnight.

Vishnunadh alleged that recruitments often take place without taking into account the reservation quotas. “The government is just protecting the party workers with the tax-payer's money,” he said.

Last month, the issue of jobs being extended through the back door surfaced in a big way, when a letter of CPI-M Thiruvananthapuram mayor Arya Rajendran surfaced in public, wherein she requested district secretary Anavoor Nagappan for a list of prospective job hunters to the 295 temporary posts in the corporation.

PC Vishnunath

"The list of jobs being made through the back door by the Vijayan government ranges from posts of dog catchers to vice-chancellors who came with recommendation letters of the party leaders. A total of 1.90 lakh back door jobs have been given leaving the Public Service Commission and the Employment Exchanges mere onlookers," said Vishnunadh.

Minister MB Rajesh rejected the allegations and said all government appointments were subjected to auditing.

He added that the appointments made without catering to the guidelines will be subject to Vigilance scrutiny. He was responding to the notice of adjournment motion  moved by Vishnunadh.

"The government will never support any appointments that do not cater to the norms. What is the point of debating a letter which has been identified as fake by the sender and recipient?" the Minister said.

"The hiring to the permanent posts in Local Self Government is made through PSC. Others posts are filled in through employment exchanges. The temporary postings are filled by following the guidelines in place. The government does not interfere in this," he added.

M B Rajesh, Minister for Local Self-Government and Excise

When the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation decided to extend the timings of the primary Health Centres till evening, it was decided to create temporary posts.  released an advertisement inviting applications from candidates to these posts. A list was also prepared after an interview. The appointments were made in July. When some of the candidates failed to turn up, another advertisement was given. Applications were invited three times in total. The process of appointment was done in a proper, legitimate fashion and the allegations are ill-founded, Rajesh said.

The LDF government has made more appointments compared to the UDF government. 38,840 people were hired till November 2022. 1,99,201 people were appointed in the last six years. In the State, 181 new IT companies have started operation since the LDF government took charge, the Minister said.

Unhappy with the reply, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan, then got up and alleged that the CPI(M) has its own recruitment agency which is engaged in getting these back door entries a reality.

"The letter of the mayor which surfaced in the public domain is not the work of the opposition, but has come out due to the factional feud in the CPI(M)," said Satheesan, who warned that they have got the list of the spouses of the top CPI(M) leaders who have got jobs through the back door.

Meanwhile, a ruckus erupted in the Assembly when Minister P Rajeeve interrupted VD Satheesan during his speech. Though the Speaker attempted to calm down the ruling and the Opposition benches, it was to no avail. 

The session was cut short without any other discussions after the Opposition MLAs protested in the well of the House.

Bills to be considered

There are about 20 Bills, which include the ones on the Vizhinjam port protests, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation appointment scandal, and the one that seeks to strip the Governor of the Chancellor's authority.

Seven Bills are expected to be discussed in total on Monday and Tuesday. As per reports, the Bill on Chancellor won't be taken up in the first few days of the Assembly.

CPM's Kadakampally Surendran is expected to present the Vizhinjam issue, asking the Government to continue with the construction addressing the fisherfolk's concerns.

A Bill, which is also likely to be intensely debated on is the Kerala General Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill tat aims to increase by four per cent the Kerala GST on foreign liquor to make up for the loss of revenue due to exemption of the five per cent turnover tax levied on distilleries making and selling foreign liquor in the State.

The Opposition UDF has been vehemently against both the bills and is expected to oppose them.

They will also be raising the important topic of Vizhinjam protests against the Adani seaport, and the controversial letter allegedly attributed to Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran seeking names from party to appoint on contract in the civic body.

The Kerala Cabinet on November 30 approved a draft amendment bill that seeks to remove the Governor as chancellor of all the 14 universities in Kerala.

The amendment to the Kerala Universities Act will be tabled in the Assembly.

The existing laws would be amended in such a way that each of the 14 universities will have a separate chancellor.

The Commission for Reforms in Higher Education chaired by Shyam B Menon, the former Vice-Chancellor of Dr B. R. Ambedkar University, Delhi, had recommended in August this year that there should be a separate chancellor for each university.

Nonetheless, the proposed amendment of the LDF government will stick to the Commission's recommendation only in letter not in spirit.

The Governor is yet to sign the Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill and the University Laws Amendment Bill which were passed by the Assembly during its session that ended in the first week of September.

The Governor claimed that he required clarity regarding them and had sought the same from the government, which did not respond to the same.

(With IANS inputs.)

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