West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday that while "mistakes" in the recruitment process should be corrected, no one should be fired because they have families to support.
Banerjee's remark came as the Calcutta High Court dismissed the services of thousands of people who were illegally appointed as teaching and non-teaching staff at state-sponsored and state-aided schools across West Bengal through recruitment fraud.
"If I have made any mistake, you can slap me and I will not mind. I have not wronged anyone, knowingly. After I came to power, I have not taken away the jobs of CPI(M) cadres, but why are you doing this? You don't have the ability to give a job, but you are snatching away people's livelihoods," she said, apparently targetting CPI(M) MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a lawyer who was fighting many of such cases in the court.
'Re-examination can also be considered'
Urging the court to reconsider its decisions to terminate the services, Banerjee said a re-examination can also be considered for such people.
"I will ask you to rethink. Even yesterday, two people died by suicide in Jalpaiguri. If someone else did something wrong, why will these people suffer? If someone loses his job suddenly, how will they look after their family? Give that person a chance. If needed, allow him to take another test. We will prepare another setup as per the court's order," she said.
Banerjee was emotional
Banerjee was visibly moved as she spoke about the issue at the Alipore Judges' Court campus during Sri Aurobindo's 150th birth anniversary celebrations.
"Not everyone is a TMC cadre. A government employee can be a supporter of any political party. If any of them has done anything wrong, I will take action against them. I do not have any sympathy for them. But, we must see that those who got the jobs are not victimised," she said.
Bhattacharya, the senior CPI(M) leader, stated that instead of asking the court to reconsider its decision to terminate the services of undeserving candidates, Banerjee should resign and accept responsibility for the entire fiasco.
"During the Left Front government, appointments were done following the due procedures. She has no power to take away any job," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP alleged that Banerjee was herself involved in the irregularities.
"The statement proves the chief minister's involvement in the irregularities. Now, she is trying to save her face," senior state BJP leader Rahul Sinha alleged.