Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday told education minister Bratya Basu from a public rally to take steps so schoolteachers can be recruited “in accordance with the law”, amid allegations of irregularities in school appointments.
Former education minister Partha Chatterjee is in custody for alleged corruption in recruitments for government-aided schools.
“We have 89,035 vacant positions for teachers. We could have recruited teachers for these positions but for the vested interests of one or two.... Bratya (turning towards the education minister), do it afresh in accordance with the law. Appointments should not be held up. Job aspirants should get jobs in accordance with the law,” the chief minister said on the occasion of the foundation day of the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad.
Mamata said there might have been “mistakes” while giving jobs and that the government did not get a chance to rectify them because of the challenges posed by litigations.
“Since coming to power, we have appointed 1,63,970 teachers for school education, higher education, minority affairs and polytechnics. How many complaints have there been from the likes of Akash babu, Bikash babu (possibly referring to CPM leader and lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya) and Prakash babu?” the chief minister said.
“There are between 200 and 250 complaints. Still I had said we would take care of this. We could have made mistakes while working.”
Sudipto Dasgupta, a member of the team of lawyers led by Bhattacharyya, said over 6,000 cases pertaining to complaints of irregularities in the recruitment of teachers for schools have been filed in Calcutta High Court.
The programme where the chief minister made the speech was held at the base of the Gandhi statute on Mayo Road.
A stone’s throw away, some teaching job aspirants have been staging a sit-in against the alleged irregularities for over 500 days.
Priyanka Shaw, one of the protesters, said they did not hold the sit-in on Monday following a request from police.
On August 1, education minister Basu had said they were bringing in “changes in the rules to make the recruitment process foolproof with zero errors”.
CPM leader and lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya told The Telegraph on Monday: “The fact that Mamata Banerjee stressed that recruitments be made in accordance with the law means she is admitting that so far the recruitments were not in accordance with the law.”
When told about the chief minister’s accusation that he had disrupted the recruitment process, Bhattacharyya said: “I don’t intend to respond to wild allegations.”
The chief minister in her speech referred to retired Supreme Court judge Asok Kumar Ganguly.
“It comes to my mind that when Asok Kumar Ganguly had held the position of a judge (in the Supreme Court), he gave a judgment. The judgment said if you err while being at work, the authorities could have it rectified. But we did not get that chance. If we get a chance, we are ready (to rectify),” the chief minister said.
When this newspaper sought Justice Ganguly’s reaction, he said: “I don’t remember what was the context, if I had made that comment at all. Regarding the anomalies in recruitment, I can say what has happened is not a case of some error or mistake. They (the government) have indulged in a systematic corrupt practice over the years.