The West Bengal teachers’ recruitment scandal has been chosen as the topic for this year’s Saraswati Puja, which will be held on Thursday, January 26 by a pandal committee in North Kolkata’s Kankurgachi area. The images of the pandal decoration have gone viral over the internet in which three idols of Goddess Saraswati could well be seen in the pandal. The primary idol, which will be worshipped throughout the event, is one of them.
Another statue of Goddess Saraswati appears on a weighing scale, with a pile of cash on the other scale. Standing near them are clay sculptures of Bengal’s former Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and his assistant Arpita Mukherjee, symbolizing the large sum of money confiscated by the Enforcement Directorate from the TMC leader’s houses.
The third idol of Goddess Saraswati has been positioned in a cage alongside another cage filled with ad campaigns for tutors claiming to teach English and Bengali to potential applicants in 50 days—an indirect reference to the teachers’ recruitment scam in which aspirants were given jobs in exchange for large sums of money paid to ministers. “Goddess Saraswati is imprisoned due to the corruption prevalent in the sector of education in Bengal,” stated members of the pandal committee.
Besides the cage, a stage has been built with clay sculptures of individuals depicting the agitated job seekers who had been protesting on Kolkata’s streets against the alleged fraud and requesting jobs based on merit.
Biswajit Sarkar, the elder brother of BJP worker Abhijit Sarkar, who was reportedly slain in Bengal’s post-poll violence in 2021, prompted the topic of this year’s Saraswati Puja at the Kankurgachi pandal in West Bengal. Members of the committee commended famous artist Jayanta Barua for bringing their concept to reality.
“Education in West Bengal is sold out for money. The teachers’ recruitment scam is the biggest in our state so far. Deserving candidates are not getting jobs but supporters of the ruling party are getting employed illegally. We have decided to register our protest against this huge scam by having it as the theme for this year’s Saraswati Puja”, Biswajit Sarkar was quoted as saying.
Last year, Partha Chatterjee, a prominent Trinamool Congress leader, and Arpita Mukherjee were detained for their alleged involvement in school employment fraud. More than Rs 50 crore was confiscated from Mukherjee’s two apartments.
Following that, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate detained many personnel from the Education Department as well as a middleman who reportedly accepted money from the candidates (ED). Partha Chatterjee’s bail appeal was denied by a special CBI court in Alipore on Thursday, and his judicial custody has been prolonged till February 2.
Chatterjee, who is presently incarcerated at the Presidency Correctional Home, appeared in court alongside the other defendants in the school employment fraud case. The others were Former West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) chairman Subiresh Bhattacharya, former West Bengal Board of Secondary Education head Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay, former WBSSC adviser Shanti Prasad Sinha, and middlemen Prasanna Roy and Pradeep Singh.