Kunal Ghosh, former Rajya Sabha MP and an accused in Saradha scam, back in Trinamool fold

Published : July 29, 2020 21:01 IST

Kunal Ghosh waves to his supporters after being produced in a local court in Kolkata in October 2015. Photo: PTI

Kunal Ghosh, former Rajya Sabha MP of the Trinamool Congress and one of the main accused in the multi-crore Saradha deposit collection scam, is back in the party fold after having been suspended by the party for six years. His inclusion in the official list of designated national and State spokespersons of the party on July 28 came as a surprise considering the acrimony and bitter falling out between him and the party leadership following his arrest in connection with the scam in 2013.

Ghosh, who is currently out on bail but was in prison, was unsparing in his criticism of the Trinamool Congress and its supremo, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during his time in jail. On one occasion he had even said that Mamata Banerjee was the “biggest beneficiary” of the Saradha scam, which was one of the biggest financial scandals to hit the State 2013 and which ruined lakhs of poor investors. Two months before his arrest in November 2013, Ghosh was suspended from the party for anti-party activities.

Sudipta Sen, the founder, chairman and managing director of the Saradha Group, in a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2013, just days before his arrest, had alleged that Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose, also a Trinamool MP, had entered into an “agreement” with him to “protect” his business from the State and Central governments in exchange for a high consideration. They had apparently assured him of “smooth passage” for his operations, using their “close connection” with Mamata Banerjee. Ghosh was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the media arm of the Saradha Group.

Ghosh’s repeated outburst against his party and its top leadership was a cause of considerable discomfort for the Trinamool Congress when he was in prison. However, after coming out of prison, he made conciliatory overtures to the party and was even spotted occasionally in party functions. In June 2019, Ghosh, once considered one of Mamata Banerjee’s closest aides, met her at her residence after a gap of six years. He made it clear then that he was trying to put his “differences” with the party behind him and that his political allegiance had remained unchanged.

However, his sudden elevation from political obscurity points to the party being under pressure as the Assembly elections are less than 10 months away and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) breathing breathing down its neck. A senior Trinamool leader admitted to Frontline that in the present situation, the party needs as much political ammunition as it can get “to stop the onslaught of the BJP”. “Let bygones be bygones. Kunal Ghosh is an articulate, effective individual who can be of use to the party at a time when its biggest challenge lies ahead. He can also expose the machinations of the BJP and how it has been using Central agencies to corner an elected State government,” he said.

Days earlier, the Trinamool Congress sprang another surprise when it inducted former Maoist leader Chhatradhar Mahato, who had been in prison for the last 10 years, into its State Committee. This move was interpreted by political observers as a desperate attempt by the ruling party to wrest back the Jangalmahal (the contiguous forested area of the three districts of Bankura, Purulia, and Paschim Medinipur) region from the BJP’s hold.