Calcutta, Jan. 20: The Mamata Banerjee government is set to launch a recruitment drive ahead of the Lok Sabha polls for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates for around 16,000 posts lying vacant in various departments.
Senior government officials said a proposal to begin the drive was likely to be placed before the cabinet on January 25.
Sources said preparations to implement the plan had been made and chief secretary Sanjay Mitra had approved the move at a meeting in Nabanna on January 16.
“The government is in a hurry to start the recruitment process before the Election Commission declares the Lok Sabha election dates,” an official said.
“The recruitment process will be held up for a few months if we fail to start it before the poll dates are announced as the model code of conduct will come into effect. If the process begins before the model code kicks in, it will not have to be stopped. The chief minister is keen to begin the recruitment drive as soon as possible so that she can reach out to the SCs and STs before the Lok Sabha elections,” an official said.
Senior officials said according to the provisions of the West Bengal Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (reservation of vacancies in services and posts) Act, 1976, 11,904 posts meant for SCs and 4,437 for STs were lying vacant in 16 departments.
The act lays down that 22 per cent government jobs have to be reserved for SCs and 6 per cent for STs.
Recently, the state government started reviewing whether the departments had the required number of SC and ST employees.
So far, 16 departments, among them public health engineering, animal resource development, school education and commerce and industries, have sent reports on their employee strength and the number of SC and ST staff members.
“After analysing the figures, it was found that at least 16,341 posts reserved for SCs and STs in different categories — from section officer to peon — are lying vacant in these departments. As this could send a wrong message to the people against the backdrop of the chief minister’s assertion that lakhs of jobs had been created, the government has decided to go for the recruitment drive,” another official said.
According to the plan, the drive will start by mid-February.
The departments have been asked to immediately inform the recruitment agencies — the staff selection commission and the public service commission — about the drive so that the process can be started as soon as the cabinet approves the plan.
Senior government officials said as the majority of the vacancies were in the Group C (lower division clerk) and Group D (peon) categories, the recruitment process would be undertaken by the recently formed West Bengal Staff Selection Commission.
“For these posts, the commission may opt for just walk-in interviews to give at least some appointments before the elections. The same process had been followed when the government recruited more than 3,000 Group D employees on a contractual basis around a year ago,” an official said.
According to officials, the government will have to spend an extra Rs 300 crore to pay salaries to the employees to be recruited.