As the elections approach in Kerala, the LDF government is reeling under the pressure formed by opposition parties about the backdoor recruitments in the state. The central focus of the issue was a rush by the authorities to “regularise” employees that have been temporarily employed in various agencies for almost a decade. However, the latest in line had been the issue of Ninitha Kanicheri — wife of CPM leader MB Rajesh — and her “problematic” selection as the Assistant Professor to the Kalady Sanskrit 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 had noted that in his entire career, he had never seen the rank list being completely overturned. He added that he is quitting as a subject expert, and 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 had claimed that Ninitha had been selected complying with rules and procedures.
However, with Umar 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.
Many had come to the fore to justify the rank list, claiming that Ninitha is a qualified candidate. However, a closer perusal of the shortlist and the final list will prove that it is not the case. Ninitha had only secured 212 in a PSC test (published after a written examination and interview) conducted in 2012 for the post of assistant professor in government colleges, making her one of the least qualified candidates on the shortlist. How she got into the final list is another problem altogether. Moreover, the third rank holder in the final list is Dr V Hikmathulla and he has a more impressive portfolio than Ninitha.
He has a PhD from Calicut University, and he has gone on to win accolades for his poems, proses, and academic work in theatre. He has been published in countless magazines, writing on various topics from theatre to Islamophobia to Dalit rights to Islamic literature. Dr Hikmathulla has also been active in national and international seminars. Yet, despite an impressive track record, he is below Ninitha in the list.