On the day when huge money was recovered from TMC leader Partha Chatterjee’s close aid Arpita Mukherjee’s residence, another Trinamool MLA was being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate till midnight.
The name of Manik Bhattacharya, former President of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education and MLA of Palasipara Nadia, has come up in the ED chargesheet on the Bengal job or SSC scam. A lookout notice had earlier been issued for Bhattacharya by ED, as well.
According to the agency, certain WhatsApp messages sent to Partha Chatterjee by him ‘reflects his power’ and connection with this scam. While ED has not mentioned the sources, it has written in the chargesheet that the fact that Manik Bhattacharya was collecting money for jobs was informed to then Education Minister Partha Chatterjee.
“Dada, Manik Bhattacharya is taking money in every possible way. He took Rs. 500 from every student of every private college during the Covid-19 pandemic when colleges were shut. Students couldn’t pay. So many colleges paid up. Again, he has asked for Rs. 500 per student. He harasses colleges and threatens them and so they pay up,” the person who messaged Chatterjee on WhatsApp said.
“In Nadia district, the primary TET interview is complete. But he (Bhattacharya) is asking the chairman to give him a blank signed master sheet without the interview marks. He will do this by taking money. The party will suffer. Please look into the matter,” the message further reads.
Partha Chatterjee has then forwarded this message to somebody, the ED mentions in the chargesheet, while not disclosing the identity of said person.
The ED has also claimed that the WhatsApp chats reflect that in 2020, Bhattacharya wanted to meet Chatterjee for some ‘urgent matter’. “Want to meet you tomorrow there is something urgent,” the message is quoted in the chargesheet, to which Chatterjee replies “ok".
The ED has also claimed that information of the ongoing recruitment exam had been relayed to Chatterjee. However, the TMC leader has claimed that as Bhattacharya was the President, he used to inform Chatterjee about necessary things.
But Chatterjee was evasive in the other WhatsApp message, the agency has said.
During the hearing this year, the Calcutta High Court had snubbed Manik Bhattacharya and removed him from his post. The court had been of the opinion that the Board for Primary Education failed to produce any document to the satisfaction of the court, and also held him responsible for producing ‘misleading statements’.
The high court had come down heavily on the Manik Bhattacharya for his ‘unscrupulous acts’ and directed him to file an affidavit of movable and immovable assets along with that of his wife, son and daughter-in-law.