The qualification and the breed of the personal staff of Kerala ministers have come to the forefront after senior Congress Minister Aryadan Muhammed’s personal assistant was arrested on murder charges. According to data collected by Advocate D B Binu through Right to Information Act, several ministers are working among the company of mediocre staff members who have not even passed 10th standard. A minister in Kerala can take up to 30 members as personal staff, starting with private secretary to peon.
Educational qualification does not come in the way of local politicians or cronies getting directly recruited into the pool of ministers’ personal staff. The government orders regarding the staff postings show that the personal staff members are appointed by the government based on “notes” provided by ministers’ concerned.
One of the assistant personal secretaries of Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar only has 10th standard as qualification to fall back on. His five men have not even completed 10th standard. Urban Development Minister M Ali has seven personal staff members who had failed 10th, while three others have merely scraped through that exam. Rural Development Minister K C Joseph has six people who failed in secondary school and nine who passed 10th standard. Joseph and another Congress Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan have one of their additional personal assistants who have not cleared the 10th standard exam.
IT Minister P K Kunhalikutty has only four post-graduates among his 29-strong personal staff. The high-profile minister’s seven men have not passed 10th standard and five have reached only up till higher secondary. Finance Minister K Mani, who has only a single man from the finance department in his staff, has 12 people who have qualifications below higher secondary. Congress Minister P K Jayalakshmi has promoted four peons to additional private secretaries in 2012.
Minister Aryadan Muhammed’s personal assistant K M Biju, who allegedly killed a woman at Congress’ office, has been camping at the minister’s constituency Nilambur in Malappuram. According to sources, he went to the state capital only to collect a five-digit salary. Aryadan aide’s murder case came close on the heels of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s three long-serving personal assistants being sacked on charges of their involvement in solar panel fraud. One of them, Chandy’s gunman Salim Raj, has been arrested on charges of abducting a woman. Raj had hired a supari gang to kidnap the woman. It was also revealed that the Chief Minister’s gunman had been indulging in several criminal activities and using his influence in the Chief Minister’s office. The High Court has observed that charges against Raj were serious and asked for a CBI probe.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.