The alleged scam in patwari recruitment tests 2023 is becoming a big issue in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh with thousands of youth holding massive protests across the state demanding a CBI probe and deferment of further process of recruitment till the probe is completed.
The protests were held at all district headquarters across the state under the banner of National Educated Youth Union (NEYU) – a non-political organization of unemployed, educated youngsters.
Later in the evening, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has put on hold the appointments based on the controversial tests. The handle of the chief minister's office tweeted: "Doubts are being expressed on the results of one center in Group 2 Sub Group 4 and Patwari Recruitment Test conducted by the Employees Selection Board. I am stopping the appointments made on the basis of this test. Results of said center will be re-examined."
The massive nature of Thursday's protests and the warning of further agitation if the demands are not fulfilled soon, should be worrying for the BJP government in the state that has been trying to woo all sections of the society including youth for whom the government has launched the ‘earn and learn’ scheme recently.
While these protests were not supported by any political parties, the opposition Congress has already made a big issue out of the alleged scam, calling it Vyapam part 3 and also demanding a CBI probe. On Thursday, the Youth Congress warned of intense agitation across the state if their demand for a high-level probe into multiple irregularities in the recruitment test was not fulfilled. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also called the alleged irregularities an extension of the infamous Vyapam scam.
In response, the state government came out with point to point rebuttal on the major allegations made by the NEYU and the Congress. Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted on the issue, attacking the BJP government for “playing with the future of the youth”.
‘Fairly selected’ candidates upset
Meanwhile, over a dozen selected candidates contacted THE WEEK individually saying that they were selected fairly after a lot of hard work and preparations and they were apprehensive that the allegations and the pressure of political parties might lead to cancellation of the exam, which would ruin their future. “No one is thinking about those of us who have done nothing wrong and might suffer unnecessarily,” most of them said, requesting anonymity. They also said that many of them came from economically weaker families and had put in several years of efforts for preparations. THE WEEK checked their results to ensure that they were genuinely selected candidates.
Thousands converge in Indore
The biggest protest was reported from Indore, where thousands of students gathered in front of the district collectorate and remained there for more than two hours till Collector Ilayaraja T. himself came out to take the memorandum of demands addressed to the chief minister. However, there were no unruly scenes even as the youth marched to the collectorate and squatted there, raising slogans and singing songs.
In Bhopal, the youngsters laid siege before the office of the MP Employees Selection Board (ESB), formerly Professional Examination Board (PEB) more commonly known by its Hindi acronym Vyapam. At other districts, memorandums were submitted to senior officials.
The demands include release of full videography of the 10 toppers to make clear their response time in the tests, ‘media trial’ of the toppers in presence of subject experts, completion of probe within 10 days, all future tests in offline mode, probe into use of fake disability certificates to avail quota and making a law against paper leak with stringent punishment like lifer for those involved.
Rahul, Priyanka attack BJP government
Attacking the government, Congress ex-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has always stolen from the youth! The Patwari exam scam is the Vyapam scam 2.0, which is playing with the future of lakhs of youth of the state. Earlier, BJP stole the elected government of the people, now it is stealing the rights from the students and employment from the youth.”
Priyanka Gandhi said, “Once again there are reports of scam in recruitment under the rule of BJP government of Madhya Pradesh. There are reports that there are bids of lakhs of rupees to get the jobs; and why is the government shying away from conducting an inquiry? Why do only the names of BJP leaders keep cropping up for their alleged involvement in recruitment scams? There are only scams in the name of recruitment. Why is the BJP government putting the future of lakhs of youth in darkness?”
Meanwhile, the state government has come out with clarifications on the major points raised by the protesters. About the allegation that 1000 selected candidates were from NRI College Gwalior, the government said that all the selected 8617 students were from 78 different centres and only 114 candidates (1.32 per cent) were from the NRI College. There are other centres from where maximum 321 candidates to minimum 29 candidates were selected.
On the point that the toppers have signed in Hindi and got full marks (25) in English, the government clarification said that among top 10, six candidates signed in Hindi and four in English. There are no rules of the ESB regarding style or language of the signature and none of the toppers got full 25 marks in English but marks ranging from 13 to 23.
As for the seven out of 10 toppers being from NRI College (belonging to BJP MLA Sanjeev Singh Kushwaha), the government said that all toppers appeared on different dates and in different shifts and got different sets of question papers. They applied for the test from different places on different dates. Among the toppers, two belong to the general category, one EWS (economically weaker section), one SC and six OBC.