The income tax department on Wednesday raided properties linked to Bishnupur MLA Tanmay Ghosh, who had won the 2021 Assembly election on a BJP ticket after defecting from the Trinamul Congress but had returned to the Bengal ruling party soon after.
The raids prompted Trinamul to renew its allegation of misuse of central agencies to hound the BJP’s opponents.
IT officials, escorted by central forces, began the raids from the MLA’s Churamanipur office in Bishnupur around 11am. The ambit of the raids expanded to a rice mill, a hotel and a liquor shop in the area, continuing till late in the evening. Mobile phones of the employees were seized and they were in the process of being questioned in multiple phases.
Ghosh, who was in Calcutta for a House committee meeting, rushed out of the Assembly. “I know nothing about this. I heard that a team has gone. Many have gone, I was told. I know nothing more at this stage,” he said.
Sources claimed the raids were on the basis of a suspected mismatch between what MLA Ghosh actually possesses and what he reveals by way of documentation submitted to the IT department. The raids at Ghosh’s properties coincided with searches across south Bengal in connection with the alleged public distribution system (PDS) scam.
Both chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her party’s national general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, have on a number of occasions spoken out against the central probe agencies for allegedly trying to target the Trinamul family in order to weaken the ruling dispensation in Bengal.
Ghosh had defected to the BJP shortly before the Assembly election in 2021 after being denied candidature by Trinamul from Bishnupur. Fellow Trinamul turncoat Suvendu Adhikari, already influential in the BJP then, had gone out of his way to ensure Ghosh was fielded by his new party in the Assembly election that summer. However, less than four months after the results yielded a landslide victory and the third consecutive term in power for Trinamul, Ghosh switched back to the ruling party.
“He (Ghosh) is a big thief, part of the party of thieves. He is part of the PDS scam. He steals everything, nothing is beneath him. He was here (in the Assembly), and went running,” Adhikari said on Wednesday. “All thieves would be brought to justice eventually. Do not worry.”
Trinamul saw an “increasingly clearer pattern” in the action against the MLA and referred to Mamata “washing machine” theory, an allusion to the lack of action on corruption-tainted leaders after they join the BJP.
“The politics of vendetta becomes more and more obvious. The moment he (Tanmay Ghosh) defected to the BJP, all was okay. There were no issues with his businesses and rice mill. But now that he has joined Trinamul, agencies have been sent after him,” said Trinamul state general secretary Kunal Ghosh.
“All this is because the BJP is terrified. After being abandoned by numerous MPs and MLAs here, they know that many more want to switch to Trinamul. This is why such tactics are being used to intimidate. But it won’t be of any use,” he added.