Kolkata: The drug possession case allegedly involving a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha leader in West Bengal and another BJP leader — both turncoats from other parties — has spelt larger internal trouble for the party in the state ahead of the assembly elections.
On Tuesday, the Kolkata Police picked up BJP leader Rakesh Singh from East Burdwan after a day-long raid at his Kolkata residence in view of the claims by Bengal Yuva Morcha secretary Pamela Goswami, who was arrested on 19 February for possession of around 90 grams of cocaine. Goswami claimed that Singh had conspired to frame her and demanded his arrest.
The raid came after the Calcutta High Court dismissed Singh’s plea seeking a stay on the Kolkata Police Detective Department’s notice to him to appear before the police.
According to sources in the police, the investigators have not ruled out the possibility of bringing in senior BJP leaders under the investigation as more of them could be involved.
The narcotics case seems to have triggered an internal spat in the BJP, with senior leaders blaming the party’s policy of inducting turncoats from Trinamool Congress and Congress for the current “embarrassment”, barely two months before elections.
According to the senior leaders who didn’t wish to be named, the conflict between Singh and Goswami was due to “personal issue” of money lending that has now spilled out over the cocaine case, creating trouble for the party.
Who are these two leaders?
Yuva Morcha leader Pamela Goswami is a former model and a small-time actor in Tollywood, who left the TMC to join the BJP two years ago. Goswami was inducted as part of Soumitra Khan and Shanku Deb Panda’s team, said a senior BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
Khan is BJP state president for Yuva Morcha. Both he and Panda defected to the BJP from Trinamool between 2018 and 2019.
“She was never known to the state leadership. She joined BJP from Trinamool as a worker. She was doing well in the party. Yuva Morcha made her one of the state secretaries. The senior leadership did not have a clue about her personal life, habits and role in Trinamool,” said the leader.
Rakesh Singh, too, is a defector. He unsuccessfully contested the 2016 election as a Congress candidate from the Kolkata Port constituency. He defected to the BJP in 2018.
Singh is known as a muscle man in south Kolkata and Garden Reach area of the state capital. According to his 2016 election affidavit, he had 24 criminal cases, including attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy, among others. The Calcutta HC order Tuesday said he has 56 cases against him.
BJP had ‘no idea’ about connection
According to a second BJP leader, the party had “no idea” about the connection between Goswami and Singh, who were allegedly in a business with each other.
“Following a brief internal inquiry, we came to know that Pamela wanted to do some business with Rakesh’s son in a joint venture. Rakesh invested around Rs 36 lakh for the business and the money was allegedly siphoned,” said the leader.
“The tiff between Pamela and Rakesh happened when he asked Pamela to return the money. It is a conflict of personal interests between two individuals. The party is no way involved in this,” the leader added.
Goswami’s movement was being tracked for the last six months, a senior police official said.
“We had information that Pamela was dealing in cocaine. She was under surveillance for a long time. We had solid evidence against her. She, during the course of interrogation, took Rakesh Singh’s name. We had sent notices to him asking him to appear, but he skipped summons,” said the official who didn’t wish to be named.
‘We don’t interfere in legal matters’
Top leaders of the BJP state unit have chosen to largely refrain from making any comment on the issue.
In a press statement last week, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “Law will take its own course. But she is yet to be prosecuted. It is an allegation, but we do not interfere in legal matters.”
However, BJP state vice-president Joy Prakash Majumdar told reporters that Goswami had connections with TMC leaders.
Senior TMC leader Chandrima Bhattacharya blamed the BJP for using “young girls” for such notorious businesses. “This is BJP’s culture. They use three young members in such notorious crimes. Several names will come to the fore during the investigation,” she said in a statement last week.