Uttarakhand Finance and Urban development Minister Premchand Agarwal defended the appointments made in Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha during his tenure as the Speaker. Responding to the questions of the media persons at the Bharatiya Janata Party State office here on Saturday, Agarwal claimed that all the appointments made in the Vidhan Sabha were as per the rules and no irregularity occurred in the appointments. He said that all the appointments are temporary and were done as the Vidhan Sabha secretariat was suffering from shortage of staff.
When pointed out by the media persons that the list of 72 persons appointed during his tenure include the names of the Public Relations Officers (PROs) of the ministers, relatives of the Officers on Special Duty (OSDs) of the chief minister and other prominent personalities, Agarwal accepted that they were appointed and that it was done on the basis of their ability. He said that for the first time in the history of Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha, a recruitment examination was held but its result was not declared as some aspirants had gone to the High Court. Agarwal said that the employees were recruited on an ad hoc basis because they were needed for the Vidhan Sabha building at Bharadisain in Gairsain, the summer capital of Uttarakhand. The statement of the minister assumes significance amid allegations of favouritism and corruption in the recruitments in the fourth Vidhan Sabha of Uttarakhand. It is pertinent to mention here that the Vidhan Sabha secretariat released an advertisement for recruitment of 35 personnel in the year 2020. An agency was selected for selecting the candidates from among more than 8,000 applicants. This agency conducted the examination but its result was not declared.
Meanwhile the Vidhan Sabha recruited 72 ad hoc employees on different posts in December 2021. After their appointment the model code of conduct was imposed in the State on account of the Assembly elections. The list is said to contain the names of the PROs of ministers, wives of two OSDs of the CM and relatives of prominent personalities.
The opposition parties are now demanding an indepth inquiry in the appointments of favour made in the Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha. The Uttarakhand Assembly which has a strength of only 70 MLAs employs more than 550 employees which is said to be the highest among the State assemblies of the country. The State Assembly reportedly has more employees than the Vidhan Sabha secretariat staff of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh that has 405 MLAs. Interestingly the Uttarakhand Assembly has only 15 -16 sittings in a year as compared to 60 or more of the other States.