Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel said that the allegations of nepotism levelled against him by the opposition are baseless.

Jaleel is under fire from Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) following the appointment of one of his close relatives as a general manager in the Kerala State Minorities Development Finance Corporation. The corporation falls under his ministry.

The minister said that the appointment was done as per rules and through procedure that began with ads in several newspapers inviting applications for various posts.

“Seven candidates applied for the various posts for which applications were invited. Three was chosen for an interview, but none was found suitable. Hence a person working with the South Indian Bank was selected. The state government has the powers to appoint anyone on deputation and in fact the previous two people who were appointed to this post were selected on deputation,” said Jaleel.

Calling the new appointee “an expert in banking”, Jaleel said that IUML leadership is jittery as the appointee “was computerising the records”.

“IULM leadership is jittery as the list of loan defaulters is getting prepared. Those who are now up in arms and levelling baseless allegations know that if the present process continues, many will be in trouble,” he said.

Defending the appointee’s B.Tech qualification, Jaleel said that there were many B.Tech graduates working in banks, and that the former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan too was an electrical engineer.

According to The New Indian Express, Jaleel had also defended the appointment in a Facebook post on Friday.

“It was to appoint a person from a reputed financial institution that the Corporation advertised for the post with MBA or B.Tech with PGDBA / CS/ CA / ICWAI and three years’ experience as the criteria. Seven people had applied for the post out of which three appeared for interview,” the post read.

The IUML is the second biggest party in the Congress-led opposition.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and the state Congress President Mulapally Ramachandran have also demanded Jaleel to step down.

(With inputs from agencies.)