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Saradha: first political casualty in scam is TMC MP

india Updated: Nov 29, 2013 01:23 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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When the establishment hit him, Kunal Ghosh, the once blue-eyed boy of Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, didn’t know how to hit back. He threatened to “bare it all” about the Saradha chit fund scam, kicked around blindly, even wailed, and finally went to jail.

Not surprisingly, political observers in the state were waiting for something like this to happen. For, Rajya Sabha MP and former scribe Ghosh, who had been a close confidant of both Banerjee and Saradha boss Sudipta Sen tried to blame everybody, including Banerjee, for the scam – except himself.

But it is still a mystery why Ghosh, always eager to use his recently acquired political truism – “I am a loyal soldier of the party” – suddenly turned against the party that had made him a media boss and an MP.

Did Ghosh think that eventually — or maybe very soon — Sen would spill the beans and he had to build his own defence? Or was he genuinely outraged at the more than Rs. 22,000-crore Saradha scam?

The former CEO of Saradha media operations drew first blood at a function organised by rebel Trinamool Congress MP Somen Mitra on September 20. And life has never been the same for him since then.

In all likelihood, September 20 set off a chain of events that eventually led to Ghosh’s arrest on November 23. For the first time, a ruling party MP has been arrested in Bengal.

“He is a traitor. The CM made him an MP. The party honoured him. Now he is speaking against Didi, who is known for her honesty. How can the party spare him?” said party core committee member and TMC MP Subhendu Adhikari.

Trinamool insiders — all seeking anonymity for obvious reasons — reveal that the ball was set rolling much earlier. The obvious trigger was hobnobbing with Mitra — just weeks away from rejoining the Congress — and accusing Banerjee for the Saradha scam.

Immediately after, he was interrogated several times by the cops. But paying little heed to warnings of the handful of well-wishers he still had, Ghosh even threatened Banerjee if he was touched.

All that Mukul Roy, TMC general secretary and number two in the party, had to say after Ghosh’s arrest was: “Law will take its own course.” The party had suspended him by then.

Since last year, Ghosh made a lot of enemies within the party and got himself slowly sidelined. Aware of the danger, he tried to get close to Mitra. But Mitra, a canny politician that he is, used Ghosh’s rebellion for sound effect, but kept a safe distance from him.

Ghosh, meanwhile, needled the who’s who of the TMC. He even didn’t spare Adhikari, the hero of the 2007 Nandigram battle, accusing him of having at least one finger in the Saradha pie.

Adhikari duly filed a defamation case and said, “His statements against me and other party leaders are politically motivated. For a long time, he has been trying to harm me and I hate him.”

But what made him feel so powerful even after falling from grace? A TMC leader, who was once close to Ghosh, said, “He never thought Saradha would go bust and Sudipta Sen will not be on his side.”