Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said that he is sympathetic to the demands of aspiring teachers on stir and asserted that he is yet to get a reply from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue.
Pradhan, a senior BJP leader, also said that it is “unimaginable” that heaps of currency notes were found in the flats of a close associate of a former minister of the state which is the birthplace of Rabindranath Tagore and other luminaries.
Pradhan was referring to the seizure of currency notes worth crores from the flats of Arpita Mukherjee, allegedly a close aide of former minister Partha Chatterjee. The two were arrested last month by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its probe into the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an ASSOCHAM meeting on the future of education, he said, "I have written a letter to the West Bengal chief minister days back voicing my concern over the demands and grievances of the SSC candidates seeking to know the honourable CM's view on the matter. But I am yet to get any reply from her."
To a question, Pradhan said that he had met the agitating teaching job aspirants during his last visit to Kolkata and “I am sympathetic to their issue". The senior BJP leader hailing from Odisha said the discovery of heaps of currency notes from the residence of a close associate of a former state minister is "very unfortunate, unexpected and unprecedented”.
"In the state which is the land of great persons like Rabindranath Tagore, J C Bose and Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, such things are utterly shocking. What is happening in Bengal?" the Union education minister said.
Claiming that the word “extortion” had become commonplace in West Bengal politics in recent times but, he said, it is unimaginable that the education sector is plagued by the malaise now.
"I heard relatives and even aides of ministers are getting jobs without qualifying for exams, is this true?" he commented. Trinamool Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy told PTI that he will not respond to Pradhan's comments on the recruitment issue as the matter is sub-judice.
He said, “However, the BJP leader has no moral right to speak on corruption. Has he forgotten how a BJP national president was caught on camera accepting cash in the past?”
Roy was apparently referring to Bangaru Laxman who was caught accepting bribe in a 2001 sting operation conducted by a news portal when he was the BJP president. A special CBI court sentenced him to four years in jail in April 2012. He died two years later.
(With PTI Inputs)