Chandigarh: Two recruitment exams conducted by the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) in the last two months have become means of potential embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Haryana government.
On Saturday, Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sanjeev Balyan, a Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh, questioned recruitment exams conducted for agriculture development officers (ADO) and veterinary surgeons.
The development is significant — not only because the BJP-led Khattar government in the state prides itself on its “transparent” recruitment process but also because the allegation comes from a Jat leader from across the river. To put this into a political context, Haryana is a state dominated by Jat politics.
HPSC, the government agency responsible for recruitment to Group A and Group B posts (posts of gazetted officers) in the state, conducted both exams.
Balyan, who was speaking at a media interaction after a convocation ceremony at Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS) in Hisar, Haryana, claimed that the criteria for the ADO exam conducted last November required candidates to score at least 50 per cent marks in a written exam that 0.25 negative marks per question. This meant that “only 57 candidates were selected for the post of ADO”, he said.
“I talked with HPSC officials and told them that many aspirants who had cracked the agriculture scientists’ recruitment board national eligibility test could not qualify for the exam. The officials told me that they had assigned the task to someone to set the paper.”
He also questioned the veterinary surgeon exam, conducted earlier this month. Official answer key for the exam had at least 26 incorrect answers, he claimed, asking Haryana Agriculture Minister J.P. Dalal, who was also at the interaction, to remedy the situation.
“Dalal saab, you are the state agriculture minister. Please raise this demand,” he told Dalal. We know that the HPSC is a constitutional body but that doesn’t mean they can set exam papers without following norms. I’ll talk to the chief minister also in this regard. Responsibility needs to be fixed.”
Balyan’s allegation has given ammunition to Opposition Congress, which is now demanding accountability.
Tweeting a video of Balyan, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala asked Chief Minister Khattar now that the government should admit “there was a scam in the recruitments and the government should disband the HPSC”.
अब तो भाजपा के केंद्रीय मंत्री भी HPSC की 26 “आंसर की” ग़लत देने और “ग़लत पेपर” सेट करने को लेकर दोषी ठहरा रहे हैं।
अब तो फर्जीवाड़ा स्वीकार करें और #HPSC को भंग करें।
कब तक आप और दुष्यंत चौटाला युवाओं के भविष्य से खिलवाड़ करेंगे? pic.twitter.com/iNGM54YtRI
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 28, 2023
Congress general secretary Kumari Selja alleged that the recruitment process for jobs in Haryana had become a joke under the current state government.
“The government has been shattering the dreams of youths. Corruption and scams rule the roost,” Kumari Selja said in her tweet in Hindi.
भाजपा-जजपा सरकार ने प्रदेश में सरकारी नौकरी की भर्तियों का मजाक बनाकर रख दिया है। सरकार लगातार युवाओं के सपनों को चकनाचूर करने का कार्य कर रही है।
हर तरफ फर्जीवाड़ों, भ्रष्टाचार और गड़बड़झालों का आलम है।https://t.co/8nso2z7bwN
— Kumari Selja (@kumari_selja) January 28, 2023
On its part, the HPSC claims that it’s looking into it and that the answer key will be revised if necessary.
Also Read: ‘Allegations don’t make one guilty’ — Haryana CM Khattar defends Sandeep Singh in sexual assault row
‘Looking into it’
Balyan said Saturday that he had spoken to officials at the HPSC and had been assured that candidates wouldn’t be made to suffer.
“But the question is that if answers to 26 questions in the answer key are incorrect, doesn’t this call for an action against those responsible for this blunder,” he asked.
Dalal, meanwhile, admitted that it had been brought to his notice that only 10 per cent out of 600 posts ADOs had been filled.
“The Haryana government will definitely look into it and take some action against those behind such question papers,” he said.
Hours after the press conference, HPSC issued a clarification saying that it had followed procedure and that candidates had been given two days to state their objections to the answer key.
“The written test for the post of Veterinary Surgeon was held on 15 January. The Commission vide its announcement dated 23 January uploaded the standard question booklet and the answer key on its website and advised the candidates to file their objections, if any, latest up to 25 January. This is the standard practice followed by the Commission in all its exams,” HPSC said in an official statement. “The Commission is collating all these objections and will shorty send them to the experts for their views/ comments. If needed, the answer key will be revised as per the advice of the expert committee, and accordingly, the result of the written test will be prepared.”
The purpose was to “ensure fairness and transparency”, the statement said.
“This also safeguards the interests of the students. Any speculation regarding the preparation of results without considering the objections raised by the students are baseless and incorrect,” the statement further read.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
Also Read: Haryana mahapanchayat demands removal of minister accused of sexual assault: ‘Or face bigger stir’