Speaking at a public event as part of his Aishwarya Kerala Yatra, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has released a long list of CPM members whose families and close relationships were appointed to high-ranking government positions. He observed that such backdoor appointments have been specially organised for CPM leaders’ wives, children, close relatives, and special relationships such as Swapna Suresh.
Recently, Kerala has been witnessing protests from various quarters concerning the backdoor appointments in high positions within the government jobs as well as regularisation of temporary employees against the rules laid down by the Supreme Court. Some of these appointments are not surprising and have been debated in the public sphere. EP Jayarajan would be a prime example since he had to resign in 2016 because of nepotism. He appointed his nephew PK Sudheer Nambiar as the Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises, his brother’s daughter-in-law Deepthi Nishad was appointed the General Manager of the Clays and Ceramics Products limited.
In 2018, Minister for Minorities Affairs KT Jaleel had appointed his relative Adeeb KT as the General Manager in the Minority Development Finance Corporation, but, the minister claimed that his relative was the ‘most qualified’ among many candidates that applied for the post. As the issue began gaining traction, Adeeb resigned from the post. During the same time, the appointment of CPM leader Koliyakode Krishnan Nair’s relative DS Neelakandan as the Deputy Director Information Kerala Mission.
Meanwhile, the same leader rose to infamy when reports emerged that his son Unnikrishnan was appointed KINFRA General Manager. Two KINFRA Parks have also been an issue of contention. EK Nayanar’s grandson Sooraj Raveendran was appointed as the Managing Director of KINFRA Film and Videos Park, while CPI State Secretary Anathalavattom Anandan’s son Jeeva Anand was appointed as the Managing Director of KINFRA Apparel Park.
Apart from these, former MP Seema’s husband was C-DIT Director but resigned following allegations. KV Manoj, son of a CPM leader, was appointed Child Rights Commission’s President. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s brother-in-law SR Vinayakumar was appointed Managing Director of United Electrical Industries, and CPM leader MM Lawrence, Varadarajan, and many others have had their relatives employed in various sections across the government departments in key positions.
The same has also happened in universities and academic institutions as we are seeing right now. Earlier, LDF convenor and CPM acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan’s wife Bindu had been appointed as the Vice-Principal of Kerala Varma College, and this led to the resignation of the Principal. In 2018, the Kerala High Court annulled the appointment of AN Shamseer’s wife as an assistant professor in the Kannur University. This had indicated that there was evidence of nepotism within the ranks. They had tried the same in Calicut University but it reached nowhere. The latest in line is MB Rajesh and his wife Ninitha Kanicheri and the latter’s appointment as an assistant professor in Kalady University.
A few days ago, Professor Umar Tharamel had taken to his Facebook account to say that he was quitting as a subject expert. He had been one of the members selected as the subject experts to interview potential candidates to the post for which Ninitha was selected. He noted that in his entire career, he had never seen the rank list being completely overturned. He also requested the academic community in Kerala not to call him for it.
A row over the issue followed his FB post, as Kalady University’s Vice-Chancellor Dharmaraj Adat claimed that Ninitha had been selected complying with rules and procedures.
However, with Tharamel sticking to his claims, a few other subject experts of the interview board — KM Bharathan and P Pavithran — also turned against the decision. They wrote to Governor Arif Muhammed Khan, saying that the rank list was overturned and that Ninitha’s name was not in the final list they had submitted, disregarding many other candidates that were more qualified than her. Adding to this, the Save University Forum had also filed a plea with the Governor on the matter, with reports indicating that the other candidates might do just the same.
Addressing such widespread nepotism, Chennithala said that such things are taking place as hundreds of people are waiting for their chance. This is especially important in the context of how many PSC lists have been cancelled as the time ran out on it. “When we get to power, we will investigate the unauthorised and illegal employment within the government jobs. We will make sure that a maximum number of people gets job via PSC, and will make not reporting vacancies a crime,” Chennithala added.