TT, Calcutta, Feb. 18: Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee today said that the CPM, Congress and the BJP had joined hands to hatch a "political conspiracy" against the state government over the recruitment of 42,000 primary teachers.
"It is a political conspiracy against our government. The CPM, Congress and the BJP are instigating the unsuccessful candidates to turn against us and file cases in court. This way, they are harassing the candidates who have got appointments," Chatterjee told a news conference today.
Many candidates who had taken the Teachers' Eligibility Test and Opposition leaders have questioned the process adopted by the Bengal government to fill the vacancies.
Around 400 candidates have moved Calcutta High Court alleging they were not selected despite qualifying the TET and having teacher training certificates. They accused the government of violating a court order that said that the vacant posts of primary teachers would have to be filled with trained and TET-qualified candidates first, and if there were vacancies still, TET-qualified untrained candidates could be appointed.
Sources said the BJP had been backing protests by the candidates in Purulia and Bankura while the CPM and the Congress had been doing so in other districts.
Minister Chatterjee today said that 1.23 lakh of the 23 lakh youths who had written the TET last year had been interviewed by the primary education board for the 42,000 vacancies.
"So, it is clear that 80,000 candidates who were called for the interview were not selected. It's obvious that these candidates are resorting to protests on the streets to disrupt the recruitment process at the behest of other political parties. If anybody has a genuine complaint, let him/her send it to the (primary education) department's special cell rather than moving court," Chatterjee said.
The minister alleged that a majority of the protesting candidates were para-teachers who were recruited during the Left regime.
"Who had appointed them? The CPM did not make them permanent in 34 years. It's only because of Mamata Banerjee that they now have at least a 10 per cent reservation," he said.
After coming to power in 2011, the Mamata government had decided to set aside 10 per cent of the seats for para-teachers.
Chatterjee today said the government would rethink on any such reservations for para-teachers in the future if such "confusions and rumours" acted as a hindrance for genuine candidates.
The Opposition ruled out the education minister's allegation of instigating the candidates.
CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said: "We are not against anybody getting a job. We challenge the government to prove that we were behind any of the protests over the primary teacher recruitments. The government has failed to maintain transparency and made blunders one after another from TET to SSC. They have to pay for their deeds."
While BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha dubbed the recruitment process a "scam" and demanded a CBI inquiry into it, the Congress's Omprakash Mishra alleged that the education ministry was "neck-deep in corruption".
Both Sinha and Mishra denied any role in instigating the candidates.