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Ramblings, or damning facts? Kaustav Bagchi not first Mamata baiter to cite ex-IAS officer’s book

Cops arrested Congress spokesperson for 'derogatory remarks' against Mamata after he cited 2012 book by ex-IAS officer to say it will show people of Bengal 'how low she can stoop'.

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Kolkata: Over a decade has passed and yet, a book released by a former civil servant-turned-legislator in 2012 continues to haunt West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC). 

The book, ‘Mamata Banerjee as I have known her’, was written by former IAS officer and two-term MLA Dipak Kumar Ghosh who peppered it with copies of multiple Right to Information (RTI) applications, news clippings and official correspondence for substantiating claims he made about the TMC supremo.

The book resurfaced last week amid a heated exchange between the Congress and the TMC. At the centre of this exchange was Bengal Congress spokesperson Kaustav Bagchi who cited the book to counter the Trinamool government during a TV news debate. Bagchi was arrested for making “derogatory remarks” against the CM but released on bail the same day.

Congress's Kaustav Bagchi being produced before Kolkata court Saturday | ANI
Congress’s Kaustav Bagchi being produced before Kolkata court Saturday | ANI

However, this was not the first time the book by Dipak Kumar Ghosh was cited by Mamata’s political adversaries to target the three-time chief minister. In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and then candidate from Kolkata South, Tathagata Roy, raked up the same book in response to a comment Mamata made against then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi while on the campaign trail.

On claims made in the book, TMC spokesperson Jay Prakash Majumdar told ThePrint Tuesday that it lacks credible evidence and was written with the intention to malign. “The West Bengal government believes in freedom of speech, and thus the book hasn’t been banned because the claims in it are baseless,” he asserted.

Also Read: Bengal bureaucrat withdrawn from Raj Bhavan ‘on Governor’s request’ — BJP the ‘advisor’?

Claims Ghosh makes about Mamata 

Though Ghosh has personally levelled allegations against Mamata, charges made in the book remain unsubstantiated, except for citations of news clippings and RTI applications filed by the author.

As an IAS officer, Ghosh was part of the West Bengal administration for 37 years prior to his two-year stint with the Congress followed by another 13 years with the TMC. In his 21-chapter book, he wrote about his association with Mamata, her private life, and her working style and policies both as Union minister and later chief minister of West Bengal.

Ghosh claims the TMC chief was munching on chocolates and sandwiches during her 25-day hunger strike in 2006 to protest ‘forcible’ land acquisition in Singur for the Tata Nano plant. 

“What did Mamata do all these record days of fast? She had some lemon water, glucose water etc. during the first 2/3 days. But, after Sonali (former TMC MLA Sonali Guha) vanished from the scene, she would get 4/5 chicken/cheese sandwiches and fish fingers, secretly brought by her P.A. Gautam Basu — the poor fellow died in 2008 — from the Dalhousie Institute at Jhowtala courtesy Derek O’Brien for her dinner,” he writes.

Ghosh also accuses her of taking undue advantage of the home department portfolio in 2012.

He writes, “When one of her nephews was arrested for beating up a traffic police officer,  cabinet minister Firhad Hakim ordered the immediate release of the nephew of the Chief Minister. Later on, when the press and the TV channels became very active, he was rearrested. Such bailable sections of the IPC were mentioned by the police that the judicial magistrate had to release him on bail the same day.”

In another instance, Ghosh claims Mamata “did not consider merit, experience and party loyalty” and “acted whimsically” when forming her first cabinet in 2011.

“For example, how could the government send an official letter to late Kashinath Mishra, the Bankura MLA. He went to Raj Bhavan. But, at the last moment, he was told that in place of him Shyamapada Mukherjee of Bishnupur has been made a minister. Kashi babu was a veteran legislator. He had joined the party at the very beginning. Kashi babu broke down while speaking to this writer,” writes Ghosh.

Ghosh even recalls the time he contested assembly polls in 2006 on a TMC ticket from the coveted Jadavpur seat but lost to former CM and CPI(M) veteran Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. According to Ghosh, he wanted to quit politics and discussed it with Mamata who told him to remain with the party and contest the Lok Sabha polls from Jadavpur again in 2009.

However, Ghosh claims that the party abandoned him in 2009 and fielded Kabir Suman from Jadavpur. “She (Mamata) cheated him (author of the book) after Singur and Nandigram when Kabir Suman with his guitar and soul-stirring songs had become very close to her and her former well-wishers like Mahasweta Devi had strongly recommended that Suman be given the Jadavpur seat,” he writes.

‘If I start distributing this book…’

As he stepped out of the Bankshall Court in Kolkata after being granted conditional bail Saturday evening, 32-year-old advocate Kaustav Bagchi quipped, “I will take away the chief minister’s sleep. I will tonsure my head and won’t grow hair till the time I don’t dethrone the chief minister.”

Nine hours earlier, a team of Kolkata Police landed at the Barrackpore residence of the Congress spokesperson in connection with a complaint filed against him by TMC supporter Sumit Singh at Burtolla police station. In his statement, the complainant accused Bagchi of making “derogatory remarks” against Mamata during a TV news debate.

Bagchi was booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153 (provocation with intent to causing riot), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 505 (act that induces any person to commit offence against the state or against public tranquility), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (insult modesty of woman) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Bagchi’s remarks were in response to a statement Mamata made shortly after TMC lost Sagardighi seat to the Congress in a bypoll.

Reacting to West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s statements to the media on his party bagging a seat which the Trinamool was winning since 2011, Mamata had said on 2 March, “He (Chowdhury) is making big statements today. If I ask him about his daughter’s suicide, will he be able to answer?”

Bagchi, when asked to comment on Banerjee’s remarks during the TV news debate, cited the booklet by Ghosh on the TMC chief’s life. “If I start distributing this book in localities, Mamata Banerjee won’t be able to show her face at home. Her personal life, her life before marriage, how low she can stoop will be clear for the people of Bengal,” the Congress spokesperson had said.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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