CBI to again quizz Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee next week

The CBI investigating the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment scam is all set to interrogate former state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee with a fresh set of questions next week again.

Chatterjee, currently the state commerce & industries minister, had faced the first round of questioning on May 18, for four hours. CBI has already communicated to Chatterjee that the latter will have to be present at the agency’s Nizam Palace office again next week and in all probability, on May 24.

As per CBI sources, the decision to greet Chatterjee with a fresh and longer list of questions has been prompted by two reasons. The first reason being the inconsistencies in Chatterjee’s statements to the CBI in the first round of questioning.

A CBI official, who did not wish to be named, said that Chatterjee, as the-then state education minister was not aware of the day-to-day functioning of the screening committee of WBSSC, whose members are perceived to have done the main paperwork relating to merit list fudging.

“Interestingly, the screening committee was constituted by Chatterjee himself as the-then education minister. So, his ignorance about the day-to-day functioning of the committee, as claimed by him, is something which is not really conceivable,” the official said.

The second reason is an important statement made to CBI by the West Bengal minister of state for education Paresh Chandra Adhikari, who is also facing the central agency grilling following alleged recruitment of his daughter Ankita Adhikari, as a higher secondary political science teacher in a state-run school, flouting all norms. Ankita Adhikari, is alleged of securing the job without qualifying in the merit list and even without appearing for the personality test.

Adhikari told CBI that while his daughter’s appointment took place, although he had joined Trinamool Congress by then, he was not the minister of state for education. Adhikari also told the CBI that only WBSSC authorities can answer on the details of his daughter’s appointment.

To recall, Paresh Chandra Adhikari was the acting food minister of West Bengal from 2006 to 2011 during the previous Left Front regime led by the-then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. In August 2018, he joined Trinamool Congress leaving his earlier party of All India Forward Bloc and he was greeted in the party by the- then state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general, Partha Chatterjee.

Within 72 hours from his joining Trinamool Congress, his daughter’s name figured in the merit list. After the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections, he was made the minister of state for education.

Incidentally, when Ankita Adhikari got the appointment, Partha Chatterjee, as the-then state education minister had the overall authority of WBSSC and hence in the second round of questioning next week, he will have to face queries relating to this development.

CBI sources said that if necessity arises, at a later stage Chatterjee might be questioned after placing him face-to-face with Paresh Chandra Adhikari and the members of the screening committee to avoid further inconsistencies.

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