Chatterjee, West Bengal state industries and commerce minister, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday morning after being questioned for more than 24 hours in connection with the alleged teacher recruitment scam in the state.
The cash was reportedly recovered in searches conducted at the residential premises of Chatterjee’s aide Arpita Mukherjee, who has also been detained for questioning.
In a statement, the ED has said that the cash is “suspected to be proceeds of crime of the said School Service Commission scam”.
The scam pertaining to the recruitment of Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ staff, assistant teachers of classes 11 & 12, and primary teachers allegedly took place when Chatterjee held the education portfolio.
Apart from Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee, raids were also conducted at the premises of PK Bandopadhyay, OSD to Partha Chatterjee when he was the state education minister
Sukanta Acharjee, Chatterjee’s then personal secretary Chandan Mondal alias Ranjan, a tout who allegedly used to take money on the promise of giving school teaching jobs 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 that he hasn’t been able to contact his “leader”.
Partha Chatterjee is not only a state minister, but is also the TMC’s general secretary general and is, in fact, believed to be the third most important leader after Mamata Banerjee and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, her nephew.
A Trinamool Congress MLA since 2001, Chatterjee has been Mamata Banerjee’s close aide since their 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.
The BJP has come out all guns blazing at Banerjee’s TMC following Chatterjee’s arrest.
“Partha Chatterjee is a fish of deep waters in the lake of corruption of TMC… The youth studied day and night and dreamt of becoming a teacher but they were deprived of that job due to corruption…” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said in his tweets.