| Bishnu Das: Morality matters
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 17: School and mass education minister Bishnu Das, embroiled in a marksheet fudging scandal, today lost his place in the state cabinet amid mounting pressures from the Opposition and students’ organisations.
The minister, who till yesterday was defending his innocence in the marksheet tampering case of his son, submitted his letter of resignation to chief minister Naveen Patnaik this afternoon on “moral grounds”. Das is understood to have asked by Naveen to step down.
Naveen, who returned from Konark this afternoon, told reporters that the Das’s resignation had been accepted by him and forwarded to the governor for necessary action.
Das was embroiled in the scandal since a section of the media alleged that though his son had secured an aggregate of 478 marks in the annual high school certificate examination, it was jacked up to 602 during tabulation before the results were declared in May.
Much to the embarrassment of the government, the Board of Secondary Education Employees’ Union came up with more revelations related to his son’s matriculation marksheet stated to have been issued after rechecking in June. In fact, pressure was mounting on Naveen to remove Das after students’ organisations started agitation across the state demanding his ouster and arrest. Naveen also ordered a probe by chief secretary Ajit Tripathy, who, during investigation, found that a clerk working in the confidential section of the board was forced to write a fresh marksheet under pressure from Das.
The employees’ union also piled heat on the minister alleging that there was no record in the form of an application for rechecking of the marks secured by Bijay Shankar Das, the minister’s son, nor any reduction of aggregate marks in the tabulation statement. The board employees had not only gone on a strike but also kept the office of the secretary and controller of examinations locked up.
Later, addressing a news conference, Das said a controversy had been created over his son’s marks in the high school certificate examination to which he had been “dragged unnecessarily”.
“Since I head the school and mass education department, I resigned on moral grounds,” said Das.