Several rank holders have been protesting outside the Kerala Secretariat since January 26, against the alleged “backdoor appointments” in government jobs.

Two women hold placards during a protest by PSC rank holders outside the Secretariat in Kerala
news Protest Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 08:42

“I have waited for close to three years for my appointment. I don’t want to wait anymore.” These were the words of 37-year-old Sujitha, who secured 610th rank in the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) Last Grade Servant (LGS) examinations in 2018 from the Thiruvananthapuram district.

Sujitha is one among the many rank holders, who’ve been protesting outside the Kerala Secretariat since January 26, against the alleged “backdoor appointments” to government jobs in the state.

What is the controversy?

The rank list for LGS of the protesting rank holders was published on June 29, 2018. The protesters allege that, ever since the rank list was published, the PSC has sent advice to only 5,524 rank holders from a total of 46,285 people in the list from across the state. In the previous list (2015-18), they claim that the PSC appointed 11,395 rank holders and before that, during the year 2012-15, over 12,900 were appointed.

Speaking to TNM, Sujitha said that she had worked hard to get the rank she got and had not applied for any other work after the results were published hoping she would get the PSC advice soon. “Normally with the kind of rank I got (610), I am supposed to get appointed within a year of making it to the rank list. I can understand that immediately after we got the results, the state had to face major floods in August 2018 and therefore there was a natural delay. But now, it’s been more than 2 years since that and we’re still waiting.”

The delay and the lack of appointment has also put a financial strain on many of the families of the rank holders, especially during the pandemic time, since many of them were depending on to secure government jobs to sustain their families.

Protesters hold placards outside the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram

What frustrates the protesting rank holders further is the number of temporary appointments to government jobs, making it difficult for them to find vacancies for appointment.  Riju, one of the representatives of the protesters, tells TNM that everytime they approach the MLA’s or leaders of the government, they are told that the existing vacancies have been handed over to “temporary hands.”

“Their idea is to extend these temporary appointees for 10 years and then make them permanent citing all these years of work experience,” alleges Riju who goes on to question the need for an institution like PSC if they are not going to make appointments from the rank list. Riju’s wife, Sanuja, who had secured 259 rank from Wayanad is also awaiting her appointment.

Ever since the protests began across most districts, leaders of the LDF including Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac have alleged that the protests were instigated by the Congress-led Opposition. They have been misled by the Opposition that everyone who comes in the rank list will get a job, he said. Rubbishing these claims, Jayalakshmi who secured rank 1219, a native of Thiruvananthapuram, who is also a participant in the protest stated that they are not supported by any political party and that they are out here only because they have no choice and that they’re fed up of waiting for so long.

“There are people with different political affiliations here, from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram. In fact, some of us here are also CPI(M) supporters.” Sujitha is one such example of a Left sympathiser, who is participating in the protest. “My mother is also a CPI(M) worker in our ward. It is sad that a government led by a workers party is doing this to the people,” says a tired Sujitha.

‘No one left to speak to’

Jayalakshmi says that most of them had tried speaking to almost all the MLA’s in the state given that the rank holders belong to various parts of the state. “Apart from promising that they’ll look into the issue, none of them have actually done anything for our cause. There is absolutely no one left for us to speak to that can help us,” she adds.

‘Protesters hiding facts’

Meanwhile, hitting out at the claims made by the protesters, AA Rahim, the state secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), told TNM that the protesting rank holders are not giving out the complete picture of the controversy out to the media.

“PSC had made some changes to the educational qualifications for those getting appointments through LGS. Initially, anyone could apply and get even secretariat jobs no matter what higher educational qualification they had. However now, only those with basic SSLC or diploma can get jobs through LGS,” states Rahim, who alleged that the people protesting were mostly graduates.

Rahim says that recruitment to secretariat jobs, jobs in the PSC and Advocate General’s office used to be made from the LGS list since people with higher degrees and qualifications also used to apply. “Now, there is a separate exam for recruitment into these jobs, hence the number of appointments will naturally not be the same as last time,” he adds. In an attempt to solve the existing issue, the Kerala government had also increased the notification period to up to six months, till August 4, 2020.

However, Jishnu, the 420 PSC rank holder from Idukki, is a 12th pass. He refutes Rahim's point and says that anyone who has not graduated at the point of applying to the PSC list is eligible to be called for an interview irrespective of whether they manage to complete their graduation at a later stage. Jishnu questions why he has not been called for a job, since he is not a graduate.  

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