'Bengal has 3.68 lakh vacancies. Mamata will do what Assam did … – The Indian Express

The CPIM’s youth and student wing, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), has been standing behind protesting students who claim they were unfairly denied government school teaching jobs in what has now blown up into the West Bengal TET (Teachers’ Eligibility Test) scam, from the very first day. The DYFI state secretary, Minakshi Mukherjee, is leading the movement from the front. Protesters often talk about her as the “captain” of this movement. She spoke to The Indian Express on a range of topics. Excerpts:
Is there any data on how many people have landed jobs from these melas? An educated person will ask for the data. If I’m conducting a Rozgar Mela, won’t I have the data? If India is now “skilled”, as the Centre wants us to believe, what were Indians doing in Qatar, working as labourers to build the infrastructure for the ongoing football World Cup? What is worse, is to just go to any city in India and take a dip into the crowd. You will see someone speaking in Bengali. They were jobless in West Bengal, so they are going to other states.
All I can say is that she must be examined for chemical imbalance in her brain. You will get your answer if you go to Singur and talk to the people now. The then-Opposition leader [Mamata Banerjee] filed a case in courts against the [then Left Front] government. By the time the court ruling came, she was the Chief Minister, and yet she lost the case. Her statement is like “Chit bhi meri, pat bhi meri (Heads I win, tails you lose)”.
The government is not interested in a healthy debate, because, for that, it has to be honest and responsible. If the government’s policy is to encourage corruption and steal, there’s no liability and any fair discussion is not possible. That’s why the ruling class resorts to suppressing such movements for accountability, and that’s what this government is doing.
Firstly, we want to take the movement forward. Secondly, we want to explore if there is any solution to this problem. Remember, this has been going on for 11 years. Let me recount a personal experience to explain the current stand-off. On the day we gave a deputation to the state education minister, he said, “I have heard that lakhs of boys and girls have sat for the exam, but only a few thousand are present in the Dharmatala protest!” What he wanted to say is that it’s not a widespread concern, that all the boys and girls who have appeared for the exam should come up at the protest for the government to sit up and take notice! In other words, the government is saying “Do what you can do. I don’t bother”.
A lot of people who don’t have the qualification! We’re getting information that boys and girls who failed, landed jobs. It might be a job, but it comes with huge responsibility and requires accountability.
Teachers sacrifice a lot to raise the profile of the school. Who do they sacrifice for? Those who go to government schools. Who goes to government schools? Common people, the poor, those who need mid-day meals in schools. If that is the case, the state’s working people will suffer. So they should also be included in the movement, and it will only intensify. This fight is not only for the children who are going to study in government schools. Those who don’t send their sons and daughters to government schools also pay tax. The government can’t do whatever it wants with their tax money just because their sons and daughters are not being educated by the government.
The former state education minister is in jail. So are an MLA and many education department officers. So, the corruption was not carried out by a single man. The problem is with the government’s policy. In other words, this government needs to go.
Our job is to stand beside these aspirants. In this fight, we have already lost our comrade Maidul Islam Middya. Many other comrades were jailed, or have false cases lodged against them. So, this is our fight too, and it will continue.
The CBI and the ED did not spontaneously launch their investigations. Why did they have to be roped in? Because the job aspirants have been sitting on roads for 11 years. They have filed many cases, and many officials, including the chief minister, have promised them justice, but done nothing. People have started to lose faith in this government. Only after that, when the court ordered CBI to investigate, did the central agencies come and start their probe. We want the CBI and ED to follow the law. After all, they too are paid through our tax money. But we have to continue our fight, and won’t withdraw.
West Bengal currently has 3.68 lakh vacancies in government jobs. But we know this state government will do exactly what the Assam government did. They just abolished 8,000 vacant posts. This government has already started saying it will abolish 50,000 vacant posts in our municipalities. We believe you have to create more new posts to give better service to the people. The government has appointed two lakh people on contract instead. Why were they not given permanent appointments? If this government can’t take proper policy decisions, we have to change it. So, this fight is a bigger fight. It’s not only to set the state’s education system right, but to challenge this government’s wrong policies in every sector. We decided that for such a big fight, we have to reach out at the booth-level, and knock on the doors of every resident of the state.
This is not the scenario only in West Bengal, but across the country. The Centre has privatised everything, from railways, BSNL, coal, to airlines, transforming the people into modern slaves. In India, one in nine people are jobless. Meanwhile, after the bridge collapse in Gujarat [Morbi], the Prime Minister said it was God’s wish. When Assam was flooded, instead of relief, the state Chief Minister offered puja to the river with taxpayers’ money! It’s going on in every part of the country.
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