The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government tried "jobs-for-votes" strategy during the state elections but it appears to have boomeranged.
After the Congress leaders saw bias in selections behind the party's defeat and the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government announced a review of all ongoing recruitment, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the state government for its squandering funds on a botched recruitment drive planned without proper criteria and procedure.
The exercise for filling 4,700-odd Class-4 posts, which came to be known as "the mother of all recruitment drives", was undertaken by the previous regime without prescribing proper procedure and system that would have kept it transparent, fair, and objective.
There was instead arbitrariness, irregularities, and large variations, as written in to audit findings that the state general administration department has received.
The campaign in which more 4.30-lakh candidates applied for jobs as peon, chowkidar (watchman), gardener, cook, and water carrier, etc. in the government departments, boards, corporations, co-operative societies, and municipal bodies, was aborted in 2012, resulting in an "unfruitful expenditure" of more than Rs 2 crore to the state exchequer.
The applicants were made to wait for three years, while most of the posts remained vacant or the jobs were outsourced to private contractors.
The auditors have pointed out lapses in the process, yet no official has been held accountable. The exercise was set in motion after the Hooda government had in 2009 decided to discard the earlier procedure for the Class-IV recruitment (by sending requisitions to employment exchanges or advertising posts) and went for centralised hiring, citing delay in appointment and inconvenience to the candidates.
A centralised five-member selection committee headed by a retired IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer was constituted and advertisements issued to invite applications.
As the committee decided to first hold interviews for 2,100 posts of peon, 1.10 lakh candidates were shortlisted out of 2.30 lakh applicants and interview committees formed in the districts. The candidates were interviewed and awarded marks.
"While the scores varied a lot, at some places, district officers not nominated to any committee also conducted the interviews," said a source who observed it.
While the marks for interview, experience and academic qualifications were being tabulated to make the merit list, the committees were flooded with recommendations from legislators and political functionaries.
The applicants were running out of patience and badgering the committees. The tricky issues of the verification of documents and the inconsistencies in marks forced the government to abandon the process abruptly.
The re-employment of retired employees in the government departments; and the appointment of favourites as advisers by the previous regime were also under the audit scanner. The appointments and re-employment were done in a pick-and-choose manner without following the norms and transparent procedure.