The Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) last grade rank holders withdrew their 45-day roadside sit-in protest in front of the Secretariat on Sunday following ‘informal talks’ with Law Minister A.K. Balan.
However, those in the PSC rank list for appointment to the post of civil police officer (CPO) will continue their strike, citing the government’s ‘ambiguous response’ to their demands.
The discontinuation of the high-profile agitation has come as a propaganda victory for the LDF government. The Congress and the BJP had sought to exploit the protests to highlight their charge of backdoor appointments and fan youth anger against the government.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had pushed the strike into national attention by calling on the protesters. BJP national executive member Sobha Surendran had shepherded the agitators to the Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Arif Muhammad Khan after the government displayed reluctance to engage them in talks.
The agitation also provoked violent demonstrations by Congress and BJP workers in front of the PSC offices across Kerala. Many protests resulted in police action and injuries on both sides.
The Youth Congress (YC) also withdrew its indefinite fast in front of the Secretariat. YC State president Shafi Parambil, MLA, said the organisation would monitor the government’s action closely and remain a potent political pressure group to push the interests of PSC rank holders.
The government did not agree to the rank holders’ demand to whittle down the working hours of nightwatch persons to eight to create last grade servant vacancies. Mr. Balan said the government had extended the validity of the list till June.
Moreover, the administration had expedited promotions and ordered department heads to report vacancies to create more openings for PSC rank holders.
Mr. Balan assured rank holders that the government would expedite promotions caught in seniority-related litigations and other red tapes to create more openings for last grade servants. He reminded the rank holders that the model code of conduct had come into force. Any decision would require the concurrence of the Election Commission.