The ruling CPM-led LDF and the Congress-led Opposition UDF are in unison over the pension for the personal staff members of the ministers.
Currently in Kerala, if a personal staff member completes two years in service, he is entitled to draw a pension for life, and after his passing away his family is also eligible for the same. The Kerala assembly had passed a bill on this subject in 1994 and ever since the state coffers have been paying pensions to the former staff members of the ministers.
However, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is in an open fight with the state government and opposition, is adamant that the government give a report to him regarding pension to the staff members. He had communicated the same to the Chief Minister when the latter visited him in the Raj Bhavan recently.
The CPM, which is leading the state government, is not amused by the Governor’s ‘dictum’. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPM state secretary, while speaking to media persons at Thiruvananthapuram, said, “There is no question of reversal on the pension given to staff members of ministers and a very few are political postings among the staff members.”
In Kerala, a minister is entitled to appoint 30 staff members but the state restricted it to 27 members. Interestingly the minimum pension for a personal staff member is Rs 3,550 after the eleventh pay commission in the state.
The personal staff members after working for two years are entitled for pension and if a person joins the service at the age of 18 and he leaves the service at the age of 20, he is eligible for pension. While a government servant retires at the age of 56 in Kerala, the personal staff member does not have an upper age limit.
The personal staff of ministers, speaker, deputy speaker, and opposition leader are entitled for a pension. Arif Mohammed Khan has categorically stated that a staff member is posted for 2 years and after that period he resigns and another person is posted who can serve for the rest of the term of the minister, which leads to pension for both of them.
Congress leader K. Muraleedharan, who is a Member of Parliament from Vatakara Lok Sabha constituency, while speaking to media persons said, “The Governor cannot do anything. The practice of continuing the pension for personal staff members will continue as it is based on a bill passed by the Kerala Assembly.”
With the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF in unison against the Governor’s move to put a brake on the pension for staff members of ministers, the state will probably witness a major confrontation between the Governor on the one side and the ruling and opposition parties on the other side.