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Mamata, nephew call HC order on school jobs 'fixed', 'BJP ploy'

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
April 25, 2024 23:31 IST
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday termed the cancellation of over 25,000 school jobs as 'gross injustice' and alleged that it was a ploy by the Bharatiya Janata Party to stop these job losers from being deployed in poll duty.

IMAGE: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses during an election meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, at Galsi in Bardhaman district on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Addressing an election rally in Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency in Paschim Medinipur district, Banerjee wondered how the schools could function with so many teachers out of jobs.

Senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee also accused a section of the judiciary of collaborating with the BJP to 'fix orders' in alignment with the party's political agenda.


Speaking to reporters in Tamluk, the TMC national general secretary pledged the party's support to those who lost their jobs due to this decision.

He asserted that the TMC would stand by every eligible person and ensure that those who secured their jobs based on merit were not dismissed.

"I want to assure all eligible individuals who lost their jobs that the TMC will stand beside them during these challenging times. We will not allow any deserving candidate to suffer. This move by a section of the judiciary, seemingly influenced by the BJP, is highly condemnable," he said.

Banerjee highlighted the coincidence of the court's order coming just two days after BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari predicted a significant event on April 22.

"On that very day, the court issued an order resulting in the dismissal of an entire panel, affecting around 25,000 people," he added.

Drawing a comparison with match-fixing in cricket, Banerjee claimed that there is a 'fixing of orders' occurring.

"Just as we've heard of match-fixing in cricket, what is happening now is 'fixing of orders', a collaboration between a certain section of the judiciary and the BJP to inflict suffering on people. The recent joining of an ex-judge to the BJP further validates our claims," he concluded.

Earlier this week, the Calcutta high court had declared the recruitment process of the State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in West Bengal government-sponsored and aided schools as 'null and void', ordering the cancellation of all appointments made through it.

"If someone has committed a mistake, it can be rectified, but snatching 25,000 jobs is gross injustice. How will the schools function, if so many teachers are out of jobs? It is a ploy by the BJP. I have respect for the judiciary but what has happened is gross injustice," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

"So many jobs have been taken away so that these job losers cannot be deployed in poll duty during elections and central government employees can be engaged, who will work at the behest of the saffron camp," she added.

The BJP leaders are 'taking away jobs' despite the country having the highest unemployment rate since independence, she said.

"We are giving jobs; more than 10 lakhs jobs are ready. But the BJP to pursue its political agenda is taking away jobs. The administration and the teachers have moved the Supreme Court. We will support them," she said.

The Midnapore Lok Sabha seat was snatched by BJP's Dilip Ghosh from the Trinamool Congress in 2019.

However this time, Ghosh has been shifted to Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat, where the party is facing a tough fight.

In 2019, the party had won the seat by a slender margin.

"The BJP should answer why it has shifted its sitting MP from this seat. Is it because he was a non-performer that he was shunted out from the area? If so, then BJP must say it in public and apologise before the masses," she said.

Banerjee also hit out at the RSS for not reigning in the BJP from conducting atrocities across the country.

"I used to think the RSS as 'tyagi' (renouncers), but now they seem to have transformed into 'bhogis' (pleasure-seekers). This explains their silence amidst the BJP's perpetration of atrocities across the nation," she said.

At a second meeting in Tamluk, Banerjee made a scathing attack on BJP candidate former high court judge Abhijit Ganguly, alleging he has 'tarnished judiciary'.

"A former judge, who had eaten up jobs of so many young people, now wants me to step down," she said.

Banerjee threatened that if anything happens to any of the 25,000 jobless SSC candidates, the TMC will take out a rally and head towards the residence of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.

"Your confident proclamation of a blast that would shake Bengal two days prior to the court verdict suggests you were already privy to the information," Banerjee said.

In an implicit reference to the leader of the opposition, Banerjee questioned, "The only explosion that occurred was the abrupt disruption that jeopardised the future of 25,000 youths, endangering their livelihoods and impacting over 9-10 lakh families. Do you not bear responsibility for pushing so many people to the brink of ruin? The blood of those eligible candidates is on your hands. We will exert every effort to safeguard them."

Banerjee wondered how Adhikari seemed to possess advance knowledge of who will be targeted in raids by central agencies and who will be incarcerated, prompting speculation about his proximity to sensitive information at the highest levels.

She emphasised that during her tenure as railway minister, numerous initiatives were launched, ranging from the introduction of multiple trains to the establishment of a DMU coach factory in Purba Medinipur.

Additionally, under the TMC government's leadership, various development projects were initiated in the district, including the establishment of industrial parks and the development of the Tajpur deep-sea port, particularly focusing on the coastal areas, she added.

"A Jagannath temple, which is equal in height with the existing Jagannath Temple of Puri, will soon be unveiled in Digha where the deity of the Lord will be made of marble. We want to make Digha a global tourist destination," she said.

Banerjee lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 'repeatedly flagging the Sandeshkhali issue while turning a blind eye to the dishonor and insult of women in Gujarat riots, in Hatras of Uttar Pradesh, in Manipur, in other BJP ruled states'.

"You keep talking about Sandeshkhali, but our mothers and sisters are looked after well in Bengal. There might be a few incidents, but we took corrective action the moment these were reported in the media," she said.

Meanwhile, prayers were made before the Chief Justice's bench of the Calcutta high court on Thursday by a few lawyers seeking suo motu cognisance of the chief minister's 'defamatory' statements over the judgement.

Senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya submitted to the court an affidavit enclosing newspaper clippings of Banerjee's statements along with a pen drive containing the extract of the speech and sought suo motu initiation of criminal contempt against her.

Another lawyer Kaustav Bagchi also submitted a representation requesting suo motu cognisance of the matter alleging "defamatory and malicious" comments by the chief minister over the judgment.

Bhattacharya is a Communist Party of India-Marxist Rajya Sabha MP while Bagchi defected to the BJP from the Congress in February.

Two other lawyers also prayed for leave to file petitions with similar allegations, for which permission was granted by the bench comprising Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya.

Chief Justice Sivagnanam directed that the papers, along with petitions, for which leave was granted to be filed, be placed before him for appropriate orders.

19,000 school job losers likely to be eligible recruits: Bengal SSC

The West Bengal School Service Commission on Thursday claimed that it had provided the Calcutta high court lists of around 5,300 appointees from the 2016 school recruitment panel whose appointments were suspect, and stated that the remaining 19,000-odd teachers were 'likely to be eligible'.

The commission also said it believed that the 19,000 teachers, whose appointments also stand cancelled on account of a high court judgment, might have met the necessary qualification criteria as laid down by the appointing authorities.

Talking to reporters, state SSC chairman Siddhartha Majumdar said, "We submitted before the court lists of candidates where anomalies in recruitment were found. These lists were based on two specific irregularities in recruitment, namely Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet manipulation and rank jumps. The total number of such candidates for Groups C and D and teachers for classes 9-10 and 11-12 was around 5,300."

The claim came in the aftermath of a judgment of a high court special bench on Monday, scrapping all 25,753 appointments made through the recruitment process of State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) in West Bengal government-sponsored and aided schools.

The court also directed that a section of those recruits will have to return salaries drawn by them along with 12 per cent per annum interest.

In its judgment, the court stated that it chose to cancel the entire appointment panel since it became impossible to separate the grain from the chaff on account of non-cooperation from the SSC and the Bengal government in providing the names of those who were illegally recruited.

In view of the high court order, the commission will soon initiate a new recruitment process in which fresh candidates and those who lost school jobs on account of the court judgment can apply, Majumdar said.

"Our lawyers have pointed out some areas of confusion in the HC judgment on which we will seek guidance from the Supreme Court. All the affidavits submitted to the HC in the past by SSC have been placed before the apex court," he said.

There were four affidavits filed before the court since December last year where the commission provided the names and roll numbers of the suspected recruits, Majumdar said, adding that the lists were also shared with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

It deserves mention that the court, in its judgment, had listed 17 types of irregularities which were resorted to in perpetrating the recruitment scam.
Stating that the SSC has so far found that over 19,000 candidates from the 2016-SLST test were eligible and had no irregularities in appointment, Majumdar said, "We have filed a review petition before the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta high court judgment."

The SSC chairman maintained that the claims made by certain quarters that the commission did not inform the CBI and the court about its findings were false.

"The court had placed four queries before us and we answered every one of them. The CBI also agreed to many submissions made by us in the court and we don't think so many candidates were fraudulently recruited. The agency is at liberty to make its own analysis and observations, but not all candidates can be equally inefficient," he said.

Majumdar also said before he assumed office, 'the SSC had conducted a counselling of the 2016 batch on August 3, 2020 despite the expiry of the panel, which should not have been done on technical grounds'.

"However, the court did not object to that as it was done strictly on merit," he added.

Meanwhile, state education minister Bratya Basu said the state government will preserve OMR sheets for 10 years.

Speaking to reporters at Trinamool Bhavan, Basu emphasised the state's decision to retain the OMR sheets of each candidate for a decade, drawing from the lessons of the SSC recruitment controversy.

He indicated that the majority of the 26,000 SSC job recipients in 2017-18 were indeed eligible, citing SSC's acknowledgment that 92 per cent of them were deemed qualified.

Basu criticised the narrative propagated by the BJP and certain quarters, alleging widespread irregularities in SSC recruitment despite the state government's intervention and punitive measures against wrongdoers.

He denounced this narrative as detrimental to the interests of the people of Bengal and contrary to the ethos of 'Maa Mati Manush' (Mother, Land, People).

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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