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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP seeks edge against TMC in WB after HC scraps over 25K jobs

The saffron party demanded the immediate resignation of Mamata Banerjee from the office of the state’s chief minister. Banerjee, however, stated that the Government of West Bengal would move the Supreme Court to challenge the order of the High Court.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 19:53 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 19:53 IST

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Kolkata: After the Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered the cancellation of over 25,000 recruitments to the schools across West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party moved to reap the political dividends out of it and projected it as a corroboration of the allegations about rampant corruption by the Trinamool Congress’s government in the state.

With 39 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal yet to go to polls in the remaining six phases of voting for the parliamentary elections, the BJP is trying to use the order of the Calcutta High Court to get an edge against the TMC.

The saffron party demanded the immediate resignation of the TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee, from the office of the state’s chief minister. Banerjee, however, put up a brave front, stating that the Government of West Bengal would move the Supreme Court to challenge the order of the High Court.

“It is not mandatory to accept all verdicts. We will challenge the order in the Supreme Court. This order was passed as per the BJP's instructions amid the polls,” Banerjee said at an election rally in Raiganj LS constituency in north Bengal. She alleged that the BJP had turned the courts into its “extended party offices”.

“If the BJP files a PIL, prompt action is taken and people are sent to jail. No action is initiated when others file.” She tacitly referred to the state BJP heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari’s statement on Saturday that a political explosion would hit the TMC hard on Monday.

The High Court, which found illegalities in the recruitment process on 17 counts, declared “null and void” the appointment of the 25753 teachers and Group C and Group D employees made to the schools sponsored or aided by the West Bengal government through a selection test conducted by the state’s School Service Commission in 2016. The court delivered the verdict years after several petitions were filed before it, alleging irregularities in the recruitment process.

The scam had come under national focus in July 2022 when Partha Chatterjee, who had been holding the office of the education minister of the TMC’s government in West Bengal then, had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools. The ED had recovered a huge stash of cash along with other valuables from properties linked with him and his aide Arpita Mukherjee.

A division bench of the High Court comprising justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi on Monday also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe further into the appointment process and submit a report within the next three months. The court asked the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate a fresh appointment process.

A total of 25,753 appointment letters had been issued against 24,060 vacancies for which over 23 lakh candidates had applied and written the selection tests. The High Court on Monday directed that the persons, who had been appointed after the expiry of the panel, and also those who had submitted the blank OMR sheets in the selection tests but obtained appointments must return all remunerations and benefits received by them to the state exchequer along with 12% per annum interest from the date of receipt till deposit, within the next four weeks.

“This verdict proves that the TMC government was indeed involved in corruption. We condemn this corrupt government, where jobs were sold by the ministers and the party leaders,” said Adhikari. He also urged the CBI to act against Banerjee and the other ministers in her government who had been involved in deciding on the creation of ‘supernumerary’ jobs beyond the number of vacancies.

The TMC, which is contesting for all the 42 LS seats from West Bengal, has been struggling to blunt the anti-incumbency wave and to counter the BJP’s campaign on allegations of corruption against its government in the state. Banerjee and her party, however, vowed to stand by the people, whose livelihood had come under threat due to the verdict of the High Court on Monday and move the Supreme Court to protect their jobs.

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Published 22 April 2024, 19:53 IST

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