Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, arrested over irregularities in teachers’ recruitment, finally sacked

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today removed Partha Chatterjee as a minister, five days after he was arrested for alleged corruption in recruitment of teachers and other staff in state government schools.

Here’s your 10-point guide to the story:

  1. Partha Chatterjee’s sacking comes hours after another Rs 29 crore in unaccounted-for cash — besides five kilograms of gold jewellery — was allegedly found at a second flat owned by his aide Arpita Mukherjee in Kolkata, during a raid by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

  2. Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee were arrested by the ED on July 23 after Rs 21-crore cash was seized from her home in Kolkata. Early morning today, after an 18-hour raid at Ms Mukherjee’s second flat in Belgharia area of Kolkata, officials from the central agency left with 10 trunks of cash. Sources said the officials used three note-counting machines. 

  3. So far, besides Rs 50 crore in cash, “a huge amount” of foreign exchange and gold bars worth Rs 2 crore have been seized from Arpita Mukherjee’s two flats, said ED sources. The 30-year-old model, actor and popular Instagrammer owns at least three flats, they added.

  4. The officers also found a diary with around 40 pages of notes. BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi today told reporters that this “black diary” will help uncover “black deeds”.  

  5. Partha Chatterjee, who held the Industries portfolio until his sacking today, is accused of a role in illegal appointments of teachers and other staff in government-run schools when he was Education Minister. His aide Arpita Mukherjee allegedly told investigators that the money was kickbacks received for transfers and for helping colleges get recognition.

  6. As for Trinamool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee, in this case she’s had to tweak her earlier stance that the BJP-led central government is misusing agencies to settle political scores. “If anyone is found guilty, he or she must be punished,” she has said. “But I condemn any malicious campaign against me. The truth must come out, but within a timeframe.”

  7. Party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh has also been switching positions. Just after Mr Chatterjee’s arrest, Mr Ghosh said the party won’t remove him as minister until proven guilty. But as TV screens flashed visuals of cash heaps yesterday, Mr Ghosh said the senior leader brought “shame and disgrace to all of us”. He even tweeted that Mr Chatterjee should be expelled from the party; but later deleted that and said it was his personal opinion.

  8. The Trinamool Congress mouthpiece, ‘Jago Bangla’, has stopped naming Partha Chatterjee as a minister or the party’s general secretary. However, his name remained on the print-line as editor.

  9. The probe is being undertaken as per directions of the Calcutta High Court. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking into the alleged irregularities in recruitment, while the ED is tracking the money trail.

  10. BJP leaders have tweeted pictures of Arpita Mukherjee sitting on stage at a Trinamool event, and questioned Mamata Banerjee over it. They have said that Ms Banerjee cannot claim to have not known about the corruption.

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