TMC MP and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee left his residence in Kolkata on Wednesday morning to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the teachers' recruitment scam case in West Bengal. Security was beefed up at the ED office in Kolkata, where Abhishek Banerjee is scheduled to appear, a report said.
Here are 10 things to know about the controversial job scam case and its links with the TMC Lok Sabha MP, who is also the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
- The West Bengal school job scam or teacher recruitment scam alleges that leaders of the ruling TMC sidelined candidates who cleared the recruitment exam held by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) to post others from whom they received hefty bribes. Group C and D staff and teaching vacancies in government/aided schools were thus rigged by TMC leaders including former minister and party strongman Partha Chatterjee.
- The summons to Abhishek Banerjee, 35, comes weeks after the central probe agency conducted raids in the office of 'Leaps and Bounds Pvt Ltd' in the city in connection with the school jobs scam. The ED claimed that he is the chief executive officer of the company.
- Meanwhile, Justice Tirthankar Ghosh directed the senior advocates appearing for Banerjee and the ED to file their written arguments on September 19, when the matter will be taken up again by the Calcutta High Court.
- “The total amount of seizure and attachment in the case stands at Rs. 126.70 crore till date. The ED has so far arrested seven persons, namely Partha Chatterjee, MLA and the then Education Minister of West Bengal; Arpita Mukherjee, Manik Bhattacharya, TMC MLA and former president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education; Kuntal Ghosh, Santanu Banerjee, Ayan Sil and Sujay Krishna Bhadra in the recruitment scam,” a report in The Indian Express quoted an ED statement as saying.
- Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday filed a supplementary affidavit before the Calcutta High Court, claiming that a fresh summon issued to him by the ED when his revisional application challenging earlier summons by the agency is pending, is “bad in law”. Stating that he had been summoned on Wednesday 'to give evidence', the affidavit said the TMC MP has not only challenged the entire investigation against him, but also the previous summons issued to him by the agency, in a revisional application filed by him before the high court, the PTI reported.
- Earlier in May, the Diamond Harbour MP was grilled by the CBI in Kolkata in connection with the case for about eight hours. This was after the Calcutta High Court bench dismissed his plea to stay CBI interrogation, reports showed.
- However, the TMC leader declined to appear before the probe body when it had sent a notice to him in June in connection with the case.
- Abhishek Banerjee had earlier been summoned by the ED several times in connection with a cattle smuggling case. Citing his busy schedule in the then mass outreach campaign and the July panchayat poll in West Bengal, he had said that he would be available any time after the rural election. The TMC leader had faced nine hours of questioning by the CBI in the scam.
- CM Mamata Banerjee had alleged that it was "vendetta politics" behind the ED summons to her nephew. The TMC supremo reportedly denounced the summons as an attempt to browbeat a young leader.
- Hitting back, the state unit of the BJP asked whether "creating obstacles in free and fair probe" is part of the political agenda of the ruling party in the state. "When the BJP applies for permission for democratic protest, the TMC and its police department deny it. Our party doesn't believe in such vendetta politics. There is a proper way of conducting protest and we think the TMC, too, needs to follow the rule", BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya was quoted as saying by PTI.