The money seized from the arrested minister’s assistant blunts the TMC counter. Will Mamata lose 2024 mileage?

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He could have used the opportunity to bolster his allegation that the BJP is using central agencies for political vendetta, but the alleged seizure of Rs 20 crore in cash from the premises of a close aide to West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee pushed Trinamool Congress on the back foot.

Chatterjee, the state’s industries and commerce minister, was arrested by the Directorate of Law Enforcement on Saturday morning after being questioned for more than 24 hours in connection with the alleged recruitment scam. teachers in the state.

The money was reportedly recovered during searches carried out at the residential premises of Chatterjee’s assistant, Arpita Mukherjee, who was also detained for questioning. In a statement, the ED said the money was “suspected to be the proceeds of crime of said School Services Commission scam.”

The scam – relating to the recruitment of ‘C’ and ‘D’ staff, Class 11 and 12 assistant teachers and primary school teachers – allegedly took place when Chatterjee held the education portfolio.

Apart from Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee, raids were also carried out at the premises of PK Bandopadhyay, OSD in Partha Chatterjee when he was the state education minister; Sukanta Acharjee, then Chatterjee’s personal secretary; Chandan Mondal alias Ranjan, a tout who allegedly took money on the promise of giving teaching jobs in schools; and Kalyanmay Bhattacharya, son-in-law of Partha Chatterjee, among others.

The TMC has sought to distance itself from Chatterjee’s arrest and the minister told reporters on Saturday he had been unable to contact his ‘leader’, but the development puts the party in an embarrassing position at the just as he is stepping up his efforts to stand out in opposition.

The party managed to hold off the BJP last year to make a stunning return to power and since then Mamata Banerjee has turned her sights to expanding the party’s footprint beyond Bengal. The party held a mega rally for Martyrs’ Day on June 21 this year after two years of virtual celebrations.

In a bold move, Banerjee said his party would abstain from voting in the upcoming vice presidential elections. The TMC was never expected to vote for the NDA’s candidate, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who had not had cordial relations with Banerjee’s government. But the TMC supremo has also chosen not to toe the opposition line and will not contest the vice presidential elections. The strategy has been criticized by opposition candidate Margaret Alva, but as the non-BJP bloc seeks a leader to unite in 2024, Mamata Banerjee is taking no chances.

Partha Chatterjee is not only Minister of State but also Secretary General of the TMC and would in fact be the third most important leader after Mamata Banerjee and National Secretary General Abhishek Banerjee, his nephew. He is also a member of the Discipline Committee. Sources told News18 that he could be removed from his cabinet and party post to protect TMC from political and perceived damage.

A Trinamool Congressman since 2001, Chatterjee has been Mamata Banerjee’s close aide since his days of student politics. He became a minister in Banerjee’s first cabinet in 2011 and held the education portfolio from 2016 to 2021, the time window of the alleged scam.

BJP pulled out all guns on Banerjee’s TMC after Chatterjee’s arrest.

“Partha Chatterjee is a deep sea fish in TMC’s lake of corruption… Young people studied day and night and dreamed of becoming a teacher, but they were deprived of this job because of corruption…”, BJP National Vice President Dilip Ghosh said in several tweets.

Bengal Assembly opposition leader and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, who beat Nandigram’s Mamata Banerjee, said “a generation’s tears will not be wasted”.

The BJP also released a video of Mamata Banerjee allegedly seen talking to Arpita Chatterjee during Naktal Udayayan Shangho’s Pujo program. Can the TMC weather this political storm?

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