|The Bhaktabala BEd College at Chapra, Nadia. Picture by Pranab Debnath
Nadia, June 21: The chairman of the BEd college at the centre of a cash-for-seats scandal has said that a Trinamul Congress student leader had coerced him to admit students in excess of capacity and he knew that the young man had taken money from the aspirants.
“Tanmay Acharya had threatened me that if excess students were not admitted in my college, getting affiliation for the college could get uncertain. I got scared following his clout at the university and accepted his demand and admitted 39 students beyond the sanctioned strength,” Amar Biswas, the chairman of Bhaktabala BEd College in Chapra, told The Telegraph today.
Acharya, the general secretary of the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) in Kalyani University, denied the charges.
Biswas, whose college’s affiliation has been cancelled by the Kalyani University vice-chancellor, may have his own compulsions to defend himself. But this is the first time in recent memory that an official of an educational institution has stepped forward to level a specific allegation against a leader associated with the ruling party.
The Telegraph had reported on Saturday how the Kalyani University vice-chancellor, Rattan Lal Hangloo, had taken the uncommon step of recommending a government probe after 32 students of the BEd college complained against Acharya.
Speaking to this newspaper at Krishnagar, a few kilometres away from the BEd college and 120km from Calcutta, Biswas said he did not have the courage to say “no” to Acharya.
“I know that Tanmay had taken money from those 39 students and he pressurised me to get them admitted,” Biswas added.
The admission of these 39 students was illegal as the National Council for Teachers’ Education — the apex body for regulating teachers’ training across the country — had sanctioned only 100 seats for the college based on the infrastructure available at the college that was set up last year.
The lid was blown as the students who were given the unauthorised seats and who attended classes for a year did not get their registration forms to appear for the final examination scheduled next month. As the affiliating university, Kalyani University conducts the final examination.
At least 32 students complained to the university that they were given admission after each of them paid Acharya amounts ranging between Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh. The students said they also paid the college Rs 40,000 as course fee, for which they were given receipts.
Vice-chancellor Hangloo had said yesterday that 32 complainants had named Acharya in their letters. In an unparalleled move, the vice-chancellor took up the matter with the state government and de-recognised the college.
Acharya denied the allegations. “I am being framed by Biswas who is trying to save his skin. It is ridiculous to assume that a general secretary of the union can coerce a college to admit students out of turn,” said Acharya, a post-graduate student in Kalyani University.
Trinamul secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee said he would look into the issue. “I am yet to get a full report about the alleged malpractice in the BEd college under Kalyani University. But this much I can tell you, the party will throw out the person if the allegations against him are found to be true,” the minister said.
Sources in Trinamul said Acharya was a close aide of Subhrangshu Roy, the Trinamul MLA from Bijpur in North 24-Parganas and the son of Mukul Roy, the all-India general secretary of Trinamul.
In reply to a question, Subhrangshu said he could not recollect “anybody called Tanmay Acharya”.
“I can’t recollect anybody called Tanmay in our students’ wing. But it may be that he may have some acquaintance with me. But if he is involved in accepting money for out-of-turn admissions, strong action should be taken against him,” Subhrangshu said.
Biswas, the chairman of the BEd college, claimed that the institute had taken only Rs 40,000 — the annual course fee — from the students. “The decision to de-recognise us is wrongÖ. We will move court against it as we were coerced by a ruling party leader to do this,” he said.
Biswas, however, did not answer why he did not bring the matter to the varsity officials’ notice when Tanmay was trying to coerce him to admit students in excess of capacity.
Vice-chancellor Hangloo said the college would not be allowed to operate in the future. “We need to set an example. The college is free to approach court,” Hangloo added.
In the last couple of years, private BEd colleges have sprung up in various parts of the state — a pointer to the thirst for teachers’ jobs in a state where employment opportunities have been shrinking.
“There are still jobs in schools as the state government is recruiting assistant teachers and teachers. A BEd degree gives an applicant an edge and that is why there is a rush to get enrolled in BEd colleges,” said an education department official.
Sources suggested that operators with access to those with political clout might have taken money in the hope of getting the excess seats regularised by pulling strings.
The unexpected factor here appears to be the university establishment, including the vice-chancellor who ordered swift action in spite of fingers being pointed at a leader associated with the ruling party.