On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that his government’s recruitment system reforms had eradicated nepotism. He cited the appointment of vice-chancellors with ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and ad-hoc teachers with similar ideologies and challenged the claims. He argued that these instances serve as prominent illustrations of nepotism.
Modi confidently asserted at the fifth Rozgar Mela’ on Tuesday that the recruitment reforms implemented by his government had effectively closed the door to corruption and nepotism. These changes have significantly curbed such practices, he said, as he distributed appointment letters to more than 71,000 individuals.
In a tweet, Sibal remarked that the Prime Minister had claimed that corruption and nepotism had been eradicated through changes in the recruitment process. Sibal congratulated him on this assertion but pointed out that appointing Vice Chancellors with affiliations to the RSS and selecting ad-hoc teachers with similar ideological leanings were clear instances of nepotism. Sibal questioned the Prime Minister by asking for his response to these observations.
But how true are these claims?
Madhya Pradesh’s government initiated the recruitment process for district coordinators and block coordinators in early 2023 to facilitate the implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996. A panchayati raj department announcement announced these job openings under Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. CEDMAP, a government agency, initially conducted the recruitment process. However, according to information obtained in a report by Newslaundry, the task was subsequently outsourced to MPCON Ltd, a subsidiary of a public sector undertaking (PSU).
Based on scores and educational qualifications, candidates were shortlisted for interviews on February 4. Interviews were scheduled for February 9, 10, and 11. Nevertheless, it has been discovered that at least 12 candidates, who were listed on the merit list, were denied interviews.
Interestingly, none of the 74 PESA block coordinators and 14 district coordinators had been ranked in the initial merit list of candidates.
In a report by News Laundry, it was discovered that all 88 PESA block coordinators and district coordinators were affiliated with the Sangh Parivar. Many individuals confirmed this, but others abruptly ended the call, and one candidate even threatened the reporter involved in the investigation. The report published by NewsLaundry provides a comprehensive account of the subsequent events that unfolded.
In March 2020, Chhattisgarh Governor Anysuya Uikey appointed Baldev Sharma Vice-Chancellor of Kushabhau Thakre University of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is a biographer of former RSS Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan.
Sharma, who served previously on the National Book Trust and authored “Humare Sudarshanji,” was appointed to this prominent position. Officials within the state administration had raised concerns about the appointment, claiming that the Governor ignored suggestions made by the Congress government.
Senior officials told The Indian Express that the final list submitted to the Governor contained six names. Despite the government’s recommendations for other candidates, the Governor appointed Baldev “Bhai” Sharma as Vice-Chancellor.
Sources revealed that discussions regarding potential candidates for the Vice-Chancellor position had been ongoing since December 2019. The former Vice-Chancellor, Mansingh Parmar, resigned in March 2019, and subsequently, the position was temporarily held by Commissioner G R Churan as an additional responsibility.
It is worth noting that both Kuldeep Agnihotri, the Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh Central University in Kangra, and Dr SP Bansal, the Director of the Technology Institute in Hamirpur, have a significant background within the RSS.
Similarly, in Punjab, the former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, Prof Raj Kumar, is known for his strong affiliation with the RSS. His influence within the RSS circles influenced his selection, potentially overshadowing another contender, Prof ADN Vajpayee, a former Vice-Chancellor of HP University.
However, in the past, Congress governments appointed Vice-Chancellors considered loyal to the ruling party and who acted per their directives. Similarly, the current Vice-Chancellor may be under significant pressure to follow instructions issued by the current BJP government.
Some prominent figures have expressed concern about the “saffronisation” of educational institutions and the influence of the RSS over the Chief Minister’s Office via advisers, officers on special duty (OSDs), and similar positions, including former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri, PCC chief Sukhvinder Singh, and CPM MLA Rakesh Singha.
Despite the BJP’s continuous denials, it is undeniable that the influence of the RSS is perceptible to everyone.
Reported by Matrika Shukla