Kolkata: Rivals in the political arena, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have competed seemingly to become teachers. Not far behind are the likes of Abhishek Banerjee, Dilip Ghosh, Sukanta Majumdar, Sujan Chakraborty and Suvendu Adhikari.
The Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) 2014 results show all these political heavyweights having cleared the exam with flying colours.
Shah has secured 93 marks, Mamata 92, Abhishek 98, Ghosh 84, Majumdar 90, and Chakraborty 99. Mamata’s protégé-turned-bete noire Suvendu has scored a perfect 100.
The merit list, which was published on West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) website on 11 November, runs into 1,832 pages with the names of 11.25 lakh candidates who cleared the written examination to appear for the next rounds of tests to be recruited as teachers in the state government-run schools.
Understandably, the WBBPE is now at the centre of political uproar in West Bengal with the opposition alleging irregularities in school recruitments in the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-ruled state.
The Board has dismissed allegations that the list had fake names. “These are namesakes and we have also provided the names of the candidate’s father and their contact numbers. Attempts being made by political parties to malign the state,” WBBPE president Goutam Paul told a media briefing Monday.
Paul contended that there is no rule that there can’t be more than one person with the same name in the state.
ThePrint contacted the candidates whose names matched the well-known politicians of West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee, a resident of Bankura, told ThePrint that she had appeared for the TET in 2014.
Another namesake Dilip Ghosh informed that he was a resident of Bankura and appeared for the entrance test in 2014. Similarly, Sujan Chakraborty (not to be confused with the leader from the Communist Party of India-Marxist) said he lives in North 24 Parganas and had also appeared for the interview but didn’t qualify.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, is having none of it over the list of successful candidates with names matching that of the party biggies.
Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari mocked the merit list, saying he wanted to get a job at a school next to Mamata’s residence in Kolkata. “I want a job now and I want the children from the CM’s house to come and learn at my school where I will teach,” Suvendu said Monday outside the Raj Bhavan.
But, Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim claimed it was a conspiracy against the state. “A few people are trying to mislead the people of the state and malign us. The education department should find out the culprits who are trying to malign the state and act against them if the names are fake,” he told reporters on Monday.
West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar shared the list on Twitter. “This is the level of education and assessment in West Bengal. Corruption is high and education and assessment is poor. Sad state of affairs. When did @MamataOfficial stop playing with life of candidates?” he tweeted.
The 2014 TET jobseekers have been protesting in Kolkata claiming they were denied jobs which were instead given to undeserving candidates in lieu of money. The teaching aspirants vowed to continue their fight till they get jobs in government schools of West Bengal.
Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing the alleged teachers’ recruitment scam of West Bengal. Several high-profile arrests including that of education minister Partha Chatterjee, Manik Bhattacharya who was the former chairman of WB Board of Primary Education and TMC MLA and other officials of the education department have taken place.
In October, the CBI named 12 accused, including the former chairman, ex-advisor, and then assistant secretary of West Bengal Central School Service Commission, then president of an ad hoc committee of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, in its charge sheet in the Bengal teacher recruitment scam.
(Edited by Tony Rai)