Bengal job scam: Several TMC leaders’ kin in lurch after HC order

By, Kolkata
Mar 13, 2023 02:05 AM IST

Several Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and their kin have lost clerical jobs in West Bengal government schools because of a recent Calcutta high court order, which sought termination of service of those who paid bribes for employment, leaders of the ruling party said

Several Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and their kin have lost clerical jobs in West Bengal government schools because of a recent Calcutta high court order, which sought termination of service of those who paid bribes for employment, leaders of the ruling party said.

HT Image
HT Image

Close relatives of several TMC legislators and district leaders have lost their jobs. Some ruling party functionaries in the districts have become jobless as well. While some of them avoided the media, the rest claimed they did not use any clout to influence the recruitment process.

On March 10, the state government published a list of 842 Group-C staff found to have been illegally appointed over the past few years. The order to terminate their service was given by high court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay on March 8.

Binita Mondal, daughter of the TMC’s three-time MLA from North 24 Parganas district’s Minakhan constituency, Usha Rani Mondal, was appointed as a clerk four years ago at a school in Belghoria. Binita’s father, Mrityunjay Mondal, is a TMC functionary in Minakhan.

“I knew that my daughter got the job because of her merit. I did not approach anyone to help her,” Mrityunjay Mondal said. He did not challenge the termination.

In South 24 Parganas district, Sudip Haldar, son of TMC’s three-time Mandirbazar MLA Joydeb Haldar, figures among the job losers. Neither Sudip Haldar nor his father could be contacted.

“Joydeb Haldar did not visit his office since Friday,” a district TMC leader said on condition of anonymity.

Sadhana Haldar, acting headmistress of the school where Sudip Haldar was appointed, said: “Sudip was working as a clerk since 2018. He is not coming to school.”

In West Midnapore district, Khokon Mahata, brother of minister Srikanta Mahata, the MLA from Salboni, has lost the job he got in 2015. Like the other two MLAs, Srikanta Mahata has won from Salboni thrice since 2011, when the TMC first came to power in Bengal.

“I was not a minister when my brother was appointed. Hence, the question of using my influence does not arise. He got the job because he was qualified,” Mahata told the media.

Around a dozen more Group-C jobs given to either TMC functionaries or their relatives came to light in different parts of West Bengal till Sunday afternoon.

Dulal Bar, former TMC legislator from North 24 Parganas district’s Bagdah, who later joined the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also came under focus as his daughter, Baisakhi, lost her job.

“My daughter got the job after she got married. I cannot say anything on this,” Bar said.

In May 2022, justice Gangopadhyay directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of non-teaching staff (Group C and D) and teaching staff by the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) and West Bengal Board of Secondary Education between 2014 and 2021. The appointees allegedly paid bribes in the range of 5 lakh to 15 lakh to get jobs after failing the selection tests.

The court later directed the state to cancel the appointment of those who bribed their way into service. As a result, around 4,600 teachers and Group C and D staff have lost their jobs in phases till now.

TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh alleged on Sunday that BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, was part of the job racket. Adhikari joined the BJP in December 2020.

“Of the 842 Group-C staff who lost jobs this week, Adhikari was responsible for the appointment of 55, according to the information we have. Why is the CBI not probing this? Why is Adhikari not being taken into custody?” Ghosh asked.

Adhikari could not be contacted, but BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said the TMC should not make allegations when its own people are being exposed. “If Kunal Ghosh has any documentary evidence against any BJP leader, he should hand it over to the federal agencies,” Dilip Ghosh said.

The process of terminating the service of teachers started in June last year when justice Gangopadhyay cancelled the appointment of West Bengal’s former deputy education minister Paresh Adhikari’s daughter, Ankita.

Ankita Adhikari did not even appear for the personality test, but the original merit list was fudged to accommodate undeserving candidates, the state government admitted before the court in June 2022.

Since it has been alleged that the jobs were offered against hefty bribes, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is conducting a parallel investigation.

The ED arrested education minister Partha Chatterjee and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee on July 23 last year. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee removed Chatterjee from the government and also suspended him from the TMC. The scam took place during Chatterjee’s tenure as education minister.

TMC legislator and former president of the state primary education board, Manik Bhattacharya, was arrested by ED on October 11 last year.

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    Tanmay Chatterjee has spent more than three decades covering regional and national politics, internal security, intelligence, defence and corruption. He also plans and edits special features on subjects ranging from elections to festivals.

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