The Trinamool Congress’ woes continue as yet another prominent party leader and legislator, Manik Bhattacharya, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on October 11 in connection with the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam.
Bhattacharya, who was until recently chairperson of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, is the second Trinamool leader after Partha Chatterjee to be arrested in the SSC scam.
Bhattacharya was earlier being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the same case, but he had obtained a temporary reprieve from arrest after approaching the Supreme Court. Bhattacharya was also named in the charge sheet against Partha Chatterjee filed by the ED. The alleged irregularities in SSC recruitment had apparently taken place during Chatterjee’s tenure as State Education Minister from 2014 to 2021.
Following Chatterjee’s arrest, several former high-level officials in the education department were arrested in connection with the scam. Shanti Prasad Sinha, former advisor to the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC), and Ashok Kumar Saha, former secretary of WBSSC, were arrested on August 10, while Kalyanmoy Ganguly, former chairperson of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), was arrested on September 15. This was followed by the arrest of Subiresh Bhattacharya, former WBSSC chairperson and vice chancellor of North Bengal University, on September 19. The CBI also arrested a middleman named Prasanna Roy in connection with the case.
Reacting to Manik Bhattacharya’s arrest, Santanu Sen, a Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP, said: “We want the investigation to be completed as soon as possible. We have seen that the conviction rate of these Central agencies is very low.”
The BJP expressed satisfaction at the arrest of the Palashipara MLA, but it believes that he was only a minor player in the scam. Agnimitra Paul, president of BJP Mahila Morcha and Asansol Dakshin MLA, said: “Our demand is that the kingpin of the scam be arrested. Manik Bhattacharya and his kind are small fry. This is not just corruption but also shattering the dreams of the young generation.”