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CBI arrests TMC MLA in school jobs scam, Mamata says attempt to bring down TMC’s

April 18, 2023

Trinamool Congress MLA Jiban Krishna Saha was arrested on April 17, by the CBI from his residence in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district in connection with its investigation into the school jobs-for-bribes scam, officials said.

Saha, an MLA from the Burwan constituency, was questioned by the CBI since April 14 in connection with the case as searches went on at his house concerning the illegal recruitments in state-aided schools, they said.

The TMC MLA’s arrest drew a sharp reaction from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who dubbed the arrest as a “part of a strategy to bring down the number of TMC MLAs on the floor of the house”, an allegation dubbed as baseless by the BJP.

Following Saha’s arrest after the marathon interrogation by investigators, he was brought to the CBI office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata, around 220 km away.

When produced before a special CBI court in Alipore here in the evening, he was remanded to four days in the agency’s custody as his bail plea was rejected.

The CBI lawyer, praying for Saha’s five-day custody, submitted that several documents linked to the scam were recovered from his residence and that he needed to be questioned with regard to possible conspiracy with other persons in the irregularities.

The CBI also submitted that he tried to destroy evidence by throwing away his mobile phones during the searches at his house.

Saha, 46, allegedly dumped his two mobile phones in a pond adjacent to his house when the agency raided him. One of them was fished out on Sunday evening, officials said.

He is the third TMC MLA to be arrested in connection with the investigations by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate into the school jobs scam in the state.

Former minister Partha Chatterjee, who held the Education portfolio between 2014 and 2021 when irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff are alleged to have taken place, and another MLA Manik Bhattacharya, were arrested last year. Bhattacharya is the former president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education.

The CBI and the ED are investigating the case on the orders of the Calcutta High Court.

While reacting to the arrest, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee saw this is an attempt by the BJP to bring down the number of TMC MLAs on the floor of the house.

“This is an attempt to reduce the number of TMC legislators in the assembly (in case of a floor test). But it won’t be possible as our numbers are quite high. Plus, we have the support of a few BJP MLAs,” she said.

The TMC presently has 215 MLAs on the floor of 294 MLAs and also has the support of six BJP MLAs, who had switched over to the ruling camp.

The feisty TMC boss also shot back when asked about media reports that Saha was involved in corruption and said, “If agencies say something, does it become the truth? Media floats these things. Has anyone counted the Rs 500 crores seized? … wait for the probe (to end) The media, however, is highlighting BJP’s language,”

The BJP on the other hand, claimed that the arrests of the TMC legislators proved that public representatives of the ruling party in the state were involved in corruption.

“Saha is the third MLA to be arrested. The list of TMC leaders involved in corruption is long,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh alleged.

Leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari repeated his earlier allegation that TMC leaders acted as middlemen in providing school jobs against cash.

“Ruling party of WB established its parallel ‘Tola-Mool’ (graft) Service Commission for selling WB State Govt jobs to the highest bidder,” he tweeted.

Reacting to the attack, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh tweeted, “Why and how Suvendu is roaming free instead of being arrested? He is named in the Narada case. He joined BJP only to avoid actions (against him).”

Source: PTI

Also Read: Bengal school jobs scam: TMC MLA Jiban Krishna Saha arrested by CBI

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