Job letter fiasco gets CM’s goat
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday publicly rebuked senior bureaucrats at a programme to distribute private job offer letters to over 10,000 youths when it emerged that officials hadn’t mailed the appointment documents to most of the attendees.
The programme was organised at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Calcutta and the youths had been offered jobs after attending a skill development programme conducted by the state government.
“Have you received your appointment letters?” the chief minister asked a packed stadium.
But as most of the 10,000 youths present at the programme remained silent, Mamata asked the officials on the dais whether the appointment letters had actually been sent out. She asked the chief secretary why the job aspirants hadn’t received the appointment letters through mail.
“Why is there so much confusion. Even I am confused,” the chef minister was heard telling the senior officials.
After having an animated discussion on the dais and going through some files, Mamata told the youths that they would get their appointment letters soon.“They (technical education department) have kept appointment letters ready for about 11,000 youths. If you don’t get appointment letters within three days, you can tell me, when I will hold the administrative review meeting at Kharagpur,” said the chief minister.
An official explained that the youths had been imparted skill development training at various ITIs across the state under the Utkarsha Bangla programme and attended job fairs in different parts of Bengal. The 10,000-odd youths secured jobs in various private companies after the training.
“The programme was held to hand over appointment letters centrally as the recruiting agencies were also present at the programme,” said a source.
Mamata was visibly angry over how the episode played out.“She was told that more than 10,000 appointment letters would be given to the youths. But when she came to know on the dais — the event was being televised live — that no appointment letter had been mailed to them, she was taken aback and agitated,” said a source.
The programme had been planned in such a way that the chief minister would hand over the appointment letters to few youths and the rest would collect the hard copies of the job letters at the venue.
A senior government official said as employment creation remained the chief minister’s principal priority during her third term in power, any such avoidable mistake, that too in full public view, was bound to make her angry.
“The chief minister is trying to attract investments and generate employment. In such a situation, she was left in an awkward spot, and not because of her own fault,” said a bureaucrat. Another senior government official said the ruling party had been on the back-foot at the moment over alleged irregularities in recruitment of teachers to state-aided schools, some of which were being probed by central agencies under directions from the judiciary.
“Against the backdrop of that grave discomfort, this event was planned to showcase the government’s initiatives to help youths get jobs. If the officials cannot arrange for such a simple event properly, it obviously is problematic and infuriating for her,” said a source.
A section of the officials said there was apparent lack of planning.“The officials concerned focused more on bringing ITI students to fill in the Netaji Indoor Stadium and less on ensuring that the youths got the appointment letters in good time,” said another source.
During the programme, Mamata repeatedly attacked the BJP-led Centre and the erstwhile Left Front government in the state for their alleged role in ruining the economy and employment generation. She said her government was now seriously trying to draw investment and that Bengal should not only be considered an investment destination for the present but also for the future.
“Bringing fresh investments and generating employment have been her top priorities in the third term. Over a year has passed, with little to show for ourselves in those directions,” said a senior Trinamul leader, underscoring the need for Mamata to draw increasing attention to what her government had done to improve the state’s economy and make it investor-friendly.