The controversy over the sale of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s paintings continued on Tuesday, with a jailed TMC Rajya Sabha MP making an explosive statement alleging collusion between her and Sharada chit fund scamstar Sudipto Sen.
Journalist-turned-TMC Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, while being produced in a local court on Tuesday, alleged that the CM was protecting the culprits of the multi-crore chit fund scam and that Sen had snapped up the paintings. Despite the best efforts of the accompanying policemen, who tried to physically gag him,Ghosh shouted, “The Chief minister is protecting those involved in the Sharada scam.”
“I had the chance to talk to Sudipto in jail and also in the lock-up, while we were produced together in court. I asked him about the paintings, which has now become an election issue. He then told me he did buy some of the paintings but now he is changing his stance,” Ghosh revealed. Ghosh, who was CEO of the media wing of Sharada Group, which owned several television channels and newspapers, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Mamata herself.
After the Sharada scam broke out and Sudipto was arrested, Ghosh was interrogated 12 times by the police as well as the Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
Once he began speaking out against the involvement of Mamata and other top TMC leaders in the scam he was arrested and put behind the bars in November.
The state’s Opposition has also waded into the controversy sparked by BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who had asked Mamata to reveal the details of the sale of one of her paintings for Rs 1.86 crore.
CPM Central Committee member and former state minister Goutam Deb alleged, “There is a problem with her DNA as far as untruths are concerned. She is a pathological liar. Everyone knows who bought her paintings and why for such a huge amount. Is she a Pablo Picasso or Leonardo da Vinci?”
“Why is the TMC not disclosing the names of the public and reveal the price at which each painting was sold? Even her family members have misused her position and amassed wealth and I have documentary proof of it,” he further alleged.
The CPM also revealed that according to the Statements of Accounts signed by TMC national secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy and submitted as an affidavit before the Election Commission, Mamata had received Rs 6.5 crore from the sale of her paintings during the 2012-2014 fiscals.
Following a barrage of questions on the issue, Roy had on Monday denied that the sale of Mamata’s paintings had fetched crores. He had also challenged Modi to provide proof or tender an unconditional apology, failing which the TMC would file a defamation suit.