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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Mamata Banerjee calls HC verdict 'illegal' as BJP mounts pressure on chief minsiter, seeking her resignation

If she has any shame she should resign, says Abhijit Gangopadhyay, the BJP candidate from Tamluk, who during his days as a judge in the Calcutta High Court had played a role in pushing for a probe by central agencies into the irregularities in school teacher appointments; Didi vows to challenge Mondays HC order

Arnab Ganguly Calcutta Published 22.04.24, 03:09 PM
Mamata Banerjee.

Mamata Banerjee. File picture.

Pushed to a corner after the damning declaration of the Calcutta High Court that ruled as "null and void" appointments of over 25,000 teachers in Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee tried her best to put up a brave front on Monday, vowing to challenge the "illegal" verdict and resorting to whataboutery to take on the Opposition BJP that has sought her resignation.

“This is an illegal order. I am not speaking against the judges. I can speak on the verdict. We challenge this verdict, we will go to a higher court,” Mamata said at an election campaign in North Dinajpur’s Chakulia under the Raigunj Lok Sabha seat where the Trinamul has fielded BJP turncoat Krishna Kalyani.

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The BJP was first off the block in this war of words. “If she has any shame she should resign,” said Abhijit Gangopadhyay, the BJP candidate from East Midnapore’s Tamluk, who during his days as a judge in the Calcutta High Court had played a role in pushing for a probe by central agencies into the irregularities in school teacher appointments since 2014 that have impacted the lives of several lakhs of job seekers.

On Monday, the special bench of the high court comprising Justice Debangsu Basak and Justice MD Shabbar Rashidi ordered the School Service Commission to begin the appointment process afresh. It declared “null and void” the appointments of 25,753 individuals made in 2016 – teachers and group-C and group-D category staff __while instructing the CBI to continue with the probe into the alleged irregularities that occurred under the Mamata Banerjee government.

Mamata, however, remained aggressive in her tone, promising to stand by those who had been affected. “Jobs of 26,000 teachers have been snatched, but we will keep fighting for them. I am telling them not to worry, not to take any drastic steps. We are there for you and we will be with you,” she said in an attempt to assure those who lost their jobs following the court verdict.

“They have been asked to return their salaries. Is it possible? How can they return the money? You get salaries from the government, the security is provided by the government. If you are asked to return the salaries will you be able to do it?” she said.

BJP's Gangopadhyay made no bones about his role in unearthing the scam, something the ruling Trinamul has often cited to accuse the former judge of being biased. “The deserving candidates were deprived and cheated by the liar chief minister and her party,” said Gangopadhyay soon after the verdict was announced on Monday, adding that he felt proud to have served the judiciary.

Opposition leaders of the Left continued to mount pressure on Mamata as word on the high court order spread. CPM central committee member and Dum Dum candidate Sujan Chakraborty said the Trinamul had to return the money its leaders and functionaries took as bribe from candidates.

CPM state secretary Mohammad Salim, in between his campaign for the Murshidabad Lok Sabha seat said on Monday, the chief minister and her nephew Abhishek should be arrested and the money recovered from them.

“Many of the 25,000-plus who lost their jobs had got the appointment on their own merit. Despite the high court repeatedly asking for the list of genuine candidates selected through the SLST, the commission failed to provide the list,” said Salim at Berhampore. “They could not even provide the list of candidates who had got appointments through fraudulent means. I blame the chief minister squarely for this situation.”

“Trinamul raised Rs 1,600 crore from electoral bonds. The bribes that they took can be returned from there. All those who gave money to these leaders should file complaints with the police against them. We will join their legal battle,” said Chakraborty.

“Those candidates who lost their jobs today have been instructed to return their salaries, I don’t know from where they will make the arrangements. They gave money to the Trinamul imagining a better future for themselves. The Trinamul cannot go unpunished for destroying a generation.”

The CPM’s Calcutta South candidate, Saira Shah Halim, said the verdict has exposed the Trinamul’s role in destroying the education system in Bengal. “They have been playing around with the education system, completely destroying it," she said.

A decade ago when Narendra Modi made his first pitch to lead the country from Bengal, the Saradha scam was on the top of his mind at every speech he delivered during the campaign. Nothing came of it though, with the Left and the Congress speaking of an understanding between the BJP and the Trinamul.

In this election season to seek a third term, Modi has kept hammering on the corruption plank to hit at the Trinamul and its leaders. Mamata understands this only too well. Unfortunately though for her, she seems to be running out of ammo to beat the BJP with.

Referring to the BJP leader of the Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari’s comment on Saturday, “a bomb will explode next week,” Mamata asked how he could know.

“Tui kottheke jaanli jodi nije na likhe thakis (How could you know a bomb was about to explode if you had not dictated the verdict)?” she asked. “Verdicts are written as dictated by the BJP. I am ready to go to jail for saying so, for speaking for the people. I am not scared. You have toppled the government in Goa, Maharashtra. It is not easy to topple this government. Our leaders are behind bars. We are not scared.”

While seeking the chief minister's resignation, the BJP has taken pains to point out that the alleged scam related to the state education department for which the former minister Partha Chatterjee, some MLAs and several officials were already behind bars.

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