Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) members staged a walkout from the Assembly during zero hour on Tuesday alleging large-scale backdoor appointments in the universities and public sector undertakings (PSUs).

The Opposition, which sought adjournment of the proceedings of the House to discuss the issue, accused the government of having backtracked on its decision to leave recruitment of non-teaching staff in universities to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to facilitate recruitment of its chosen people and alleged that postings were being made in the PSUs without following proper procedures. In many instances, recruitment tests were being conducted after choosing the persons to be appointed, the Opposition members alleged.

Rebutting the Opposition charge, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the recruitment was being carried out in a transparent manner. The LDF government, he said, had set a record by recruiting 1,51,000-odd persons and created 30,000 new posts besides giving temporary employment to over 60,000 persons through the employment exchanges. The last UDF government could, on the contrary, give employment to only around 1,30,000 during its entire tenure, he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan said the decision to allow the universities to conduct recruitment of non-teaching staff was taken in view of the delay in amending the various laws to facilitate PSC recruitment. Both the Public Service Commission Act and the universities statutes would have to be amended for the purpose, but that was expected to take time. As for the recruitment to the 9 new PSUs, the government was going about the job with expert guidance from institutions such as the Kerala Productivity Council, the National Institute of Personnel Management and the KITCO Limited, he said.

Earlier, seeking leave for the motion, P.C. Vishnunath (Congress) alleged that the government was resorting to large-scale backdoor recruitment flouting all principles of fair play and reservation norms. There was also an attempt to confirm the services of many who had been appointed on a temporary basis. The government should immediately stop the recruitment in the universities and PSUs, he said.

Leading the Opposition walkout, Congres legislature party deputy leader G. Karthikeyan said that by going in for backdoor appointments, the government was flouting the directives of the Kerala High Court and the Kerala Lok Ayukta on recruitment of hands by the universities. The government was trotting up inflated figures about the number of persons it had recruited only to fool the people, he said.

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