Thiruvananthapuram: A Thrissur native who became the face of strident protests being waged in front of the Secretariat by hundreds of Public Service Commission rank-holders against the delay in government recruitments is apparently unperturbed after a vicious cyberattack by Left supporters.
"This is not a political stir for us. We are fighting with our life. We are not in pursuit of authority, but for jobs that we are eligible for. That is why we are agitating despite all the problems. We won't be frightened by cyberattacks. Therefore, we are not going to end the stir," said Laya Rajesh, who has become the symbol of the agitation, after her photo showing her breaking down in front of media personnel during the protest garnered much attention.
The incident happened on Monday amid a protest by members of the Last Grade Rank-Holders’ Association when a few of them poured kerosene over themselves.
Subsequently, she was at the receiving end of cyberattack. However, Left sympathisers termed it as a political drama and attacked her online.
"All the comments on social media are about my politics and the family background. All that does not matter here. I was included in the rank list, published 2.5 years ago. My rank is 583 in Thrissur district. Our stir is not to better our political prospects. The finance minister alleged that we are here on the behest of others. Has any flag been hoisted at the protest venue? Those who are carrying out the cyberattacks should come out in the open and make their point here,” she added.
Laya also trashed government's claims on job creation.
“The government claims that 27,000 posts were created. But how many posts were created for the last grade rank-holders? If even half the number of rank-holders cannot be given jobs, then why is the government conducting so many exams and publishing the lists? Those who are saying office assistants are not needed published a rank list of 46,500 candidates. If the jobs will not be given, what is the point in extending the validity of rank lists?
“Some consideration should be given to us ordinary people too not just the temporary workers. We find a place in a rank list after putting in effort for several years. Even then we need to bow before the ministers, MLA and party secretaries. If I don't get this job, I will not write another PSC test. I am even ready to work on daily wages. My husband is an auto driver. This is for the second time in a week that I am coming to Thiruvananthapuram from Thrissur to take part in the agitation,” she explained referring to the backdoor recruitments of Left sympathisers.
Laya's emotional outburst rattled the LDF government though a few dubbed it as a ploy to gain media attention. She was even termed a Congress supporter.
The CPM newspaper too published a report claiming that the stir was a drama staged for the media. This same allegation was raised by the chief minister's press secretary.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac came to the defence of the government as Laya's images were beamed across TV channels. "From the opposition's statements, it is clear that they are behind the agitation. The government cannot appoint everyone who is on the list. But the government has come with a programme to provide jobs, almost on par with the government salary, for 20 lakh qualified people in the state. The stir is being held without any understanding on this," Isaac countered.
His colleague E P Jayarajan said, "You should ask them (protesting candidates) as to why they are agitating? The government policy is to give jobs to everyone. The temporary employees are being made permanent but not in the PSC posts.”
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala flayed Minister Isaac over his comments on the protesting candidates. "As he is obsessed with power, Thomas Isaac is feeling disgusted about the agitations. His stance that the UDF is instigating the agitations is unbecoming of a Communist minister. There is not much difference in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'andolan jeevi' comment and Thomas Isaac's stance. The UDF will back the agitations of rank-holders until the candidates get justice,” Chennithala stated referring to the recent observation of the PM that the ongoing farmers' stir was promoted by vested interests.