The melting pot that is the Kerala secretariat is bracing for the introduction of a new ingredient—the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS), amidst protests. The Pinarayi Vijayan government is firm in its resolve to bridge the gap between vacancies for senior officers in critical positions and the shrinking pool of talent. The government feels KAS will give more opportunities to employees, by creating a second-string officers who can fill the demand-supply gap of good administrators. Sure, variants of KAS have existed in other states, but Kerala is incapable of looking at such initiatives without suspicion.
When the cabinet decided to go ahead with KAS last month, the secretariat employees started protesting. But, the CPM-affiliated union, which used to be at the forefront of this agitation, has made clear its distaste for the anti-KAS agitation. This, even as the CPI-affiliated union still continues with the agitation. The party feels KAS can be implemented, but not before certain issues get solved.
It was not for nothing the LDF had a KAS rollout in its election manifesto, but it was the previous UDF government that decided to implement it. They stopped short of implementing it though. Now, the pro-Congress Kerala Secretariat Association, Law Secretariat Association and Finance Secretariat Association feel KAS will affect promotions. Ironically, Congress-affiliated unions are demanding a ‘proper’ study by the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission, under
V S Achuthanandan, perhaps mindful of KAS formation being a part of recommendations by the E K Nayanar-led Administrative Reforms Commission. So, the CPM-backed Kerala Secretariat Employees Association, which opposed KAS, is no longer doing what they know best—lead the protest. The naïve believe LDF will take its foot off the KAS pedal once the present chief secretary retires, on March 31. April 1 could well prove to the fool’s day for many in the secretariat.