Govt. open to talks, CM tells party

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday reportedly told the CPI(M) State secretariat that the government was open to talks with the striking Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) rank holders.

By one account, the CPI(M) did not want to cede political advantage to the Opposition by inadvertently giving the impression of being unsympathetic to the angst of youths for government jobs.

The party also seemed aware that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had attempted to steal a march on the government by seeking the intervention of Governor Arif Muhammad Khan.

BJP State vice president Sobha Surendran had on Friday shepherded the leaders of the striking rank holders to meet Mr. Khan at the Raj Bhavan. In her memorandum to Mr. Khan, Ms. Surendran said the LDF government had made an estimated 1.19 lakh backdoor appointments by sidestepping the PSC. Its actions had whittled down employment chances via the constitutional body and driven youth to the street in protest.

The government has refused to engage them in talks. Ms. Surendran hoped the Raj Bhavan would “censure” the government, cancel the “illegal appointments” and counsel the administration to give the rank holders their jobs. The rank holders thanked Mr. Khan for listening to their woes.

Later, Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan indicated that the government was conducive to talks. Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said the government had not closed the door on anybody.

Law Minister A.K. Balan challenged Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala to promise the agitators that the UDF would provide jobs for all persons named in the PSC rank lists. The Opposition was misleading the youth, he said.

The CPI(M) also expressed concern that outside elements could infiltrate the protest to foment trouble to create antipathy against the government.

Meanwhile, job seekers intensified their 25-day agitation in front of the Secretariat. National medal-winning athletes turned cartwheels on the road.

Elsewhere, activists of the Youth Congress and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) marched in support of the strikers. In Kozhikode, the police used water cannon to disperse a BJYM march. Youth Congress workers attempted to storm the Sanskrit University in Kalady to protest the alleged nepotism in appointments.

AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar visited the agitating Congress legislators Shafi Parambil and K.S. Sabarinathan. He called on KSU workers injured in the police action here on Thursday. KPCC president Mullappaly Ramachandran said the CPI(M)’s willingness for talks was insincere and a stopgap.

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