The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Thursday said that the act of withholding absorption of apprentices by the Southern Railway was made with political consideration and demanded that the order be withdrawn immediately.

“Had the orders [not to absorb] of the 549 apprentices [was] not specific to Southern Railway but a general order, we would not have suspected political interest”, the CPI (M) Lok Sabha leader Basudeb Acharia said here at a press conference.

He said these apprentices, a majority from Tamil Nadu, were screened and the orders for their absorption was ready to be issued by the General Manager by mid-October. However, a message from the Railway Minister’s cell to the Railway Board instructed the Southern Railway administration to stop the posting order of apprentices.

Mr. Acharia, the former Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, said the order came at a time when the Railways was short of over two lakh personnel, including some 80,000 in the safety category.

The CPI (M) leader said that during his talks with the General Manager last month he was informed that the orders for absorption was ready and that the Zone required them as it was running short of trained personnel.

The apprentices held a protest meeting in the capital and met Railway officials in pursuance of their demand.

Mr. Acharia also said the Minister was not able to finalise the panel of names for appointment of General Managers in six zones, including one workshop. “For the first time, six zones do not have a General Manager because the Minister has no time to prepare a panel,” Mr. Acharia said.

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