Mr Jayakumar also appeared to complain that someone had recorded the minister's statements at a party meet and put it out.
At a meeting in his hometown 400 km from Chennai, Minister K A Sengottaiyan told party workers that they did not need to worry and "only those who you point" will get job opportunities in the government in future. Mr Sengottaiyan added that this decision had the approval of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam too.
The opposition DMK used the video recording to renew its attack on the Edappadi K Palaniswami government, insisting that it had lost its right to govern the state and should just quit. "This is how they've been looting the state and draining the exchequer over the years. Now they are so brazen," A Saravanan, the DMK spokesperson said.
Mr Jayakumar's explanation was aimed at blunting the government's criticism that had followed.
"The minister's comments may be to encourage party men. That too, it was an indoor meeting. First of all, you record that one," Mr Jayakumar told NDTV before he got down to insisting that the ministers could not really intervene in appointments.
"Secondly, everything is transparent. Recruitment is done purely by merit in a transparent way. We have designated boards for recruitment, be it teachers or doctors. Even for office assistants we have an online system," he said, adding that people could go court if someone tried to pull strings.
The explanation, however, hasn't persuaded everyone that recruitment to government jobs is fair game. "You can't expect anything from these ministers. People sell votes and they sell jobs to recover costs," said P Rajia, an engineer.
Mr Sengottaiyan, however, isn't the first minister to promise special treatment for party loyalists.
Sellur Raju, the cooperatives minister had recently sparked a controversy when he declared "government welfare measures" could only be availed by those with AIADMK membership cards.
B Niranjan, who has a marketing job in Chennai, said he thought the ministers were just trying to lure people into AIADMK.
The ruling AIADMK is widely seen to have been in panic mode ever since the party lost Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran in the recent by-poll and is trying to consolidate its support base for the long overdue local body polls.