The Telegraph
Thursday , June 12 , 2014
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Job seekers from Bengal tail new MPs
- About 100 youths do the rounds of Banga Bhavan, hoping to be hired as assistants

New Delhi, June 11: Achinta Pal has been camping in Delhi for the past week, armed with a yellow folder.

No, that’s not the colour of his World Cup hopes for Brazil. The Bhowanipore resident wants a job as a personal assistant with one — any one — of the 24 new MPs from Bengal. The yellow file contains his CV.

Pal, 38, is among some 100 Bengali men who have been visiting the two state guesthouses — Banga Bhavan I and Banga Bhavan II — in Delhi since early June, seeking employment as personal assistants to the parliamentarians from Bengal.

“I believe I’ll make it. I’m a postgraduate in business administration with work experience,” says Pal, who has handed his CV to two MPs.

His biggest asset? “I love politics,” he says. Not for him the allure of power and privilege that has been drawing increasing numbers of celebrities to the heat and dust of election contests.

While politics has been the favourite topic at evening roadside addas in politically conscious Bengal, for this army of job seekers, it’s more a case of tapping an expedient pool for a living.

Take, for instance, the case of Arindam Biswas, who has a master’s degree in Bengali. The 35-year-old used to give tuitions to college students in Calcutta before some politician friends suggested he should try and get a job as an MP’s personal assistant.

An MP has the discretion to appoint a personal assistant who receives a consolidated monthly salary of Rs 30,000 from the central government. The job typically involves managing the MP’s appointments, making travel arrangements and handling correspondence.

“They (the aspiring PAs) are here every day,” said a senior official at Banga Bhavan I. “I hope some of them get the jobs they want.”

An official in the Lok Sabha secretariat said if an MP wants, he can employ two personal assistants. “But the PAs have to split the Rs 30,000 between them.”

Biswas believes he has an edge over the others. “I know several politicians in the Trinamul Congress. They encouraged me to come to Delhi and speak with some of the new MPs,” he says.

Bengal has 24 new MPs — 20 in the Lok Sabha and four in the Rajya Sabha — and the two guesthouses are already packed. “We have accommodated 32 MPs who are staying with their families and relatives,” said a senior Bengal government official in Delhi.

If the hundred-odd job hunters have added to the footfall at the two guesthouses, another section of people has been on their toes round the clock: the guesthouse staff, but they are not complaining.

“We have got the chance to meet celebrities from Bengal and are happy to serve them. They are very nice people,” said an employee at the old Banga Bhavan, showing the autograph he had got from Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP Mithun Chakraborty.

The actor, Bengal’s original “Dada”, has been staying in the old Banga Bhavan. Dev and Moon Moon Sen, first-time MPs from Ghatal (West Midnapore) and Bankura, have, however, chosen Banga Bhavan II for their temporary stay before they move to their government flats.

Employees at the two canteens run by Bijoli Grill have been serving Bengali thali and other dishes to the VIP guests. “Fish fry and kosha mangsho are very popular with the guests. Most of them have food from the canteen, the only exception being Moon Moon Sen. She eats outside,” said a canteen staff.

Security has been beefed up at both the guesthouses after two motorbike riders snatched the gold chain of Trinamul MP Renuka Sinha on Sunday night outside the old Banga Bhavan on Hailey Road, some 2km from Connaught Place. The MP from Cooch Behar and her husband were taking an after-dinner walk when the snatchers struck.

Banga Bhavan II, on Uma Shankar Dixit Marg in Chanakyapuri, was built by the Left Front government because the old one lacked adequate space, infrastructure and security. It was thrown open to the public in 2012.