Trinamool suspends rebel MP Kunal Ghosh

Kolkata, Sep 28 (IANS) Eight days after he raised the standard of revolt, the Trinamool Congress Saturday announced it has suspended Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh on disciplinary grounds.

But the rebellion in the Trinamool ranks seemed far from over. Senior leader and party MP Somen Mitra backed Ghosh, while the Congress's claim that eight-10 Trinamool MPs could join the party after Diwali (Nov 2) created further uncertainty.

"Ghosh is being suspended from the party with immediate effect until further orders," Trinamool secretary general and disciplinary committee convenor Partha Chatterjee told the media.

"Despite being show caused, Ghosh has continued to speak against the party, tarnishing its image. The disciplinary committee met Sep 27 and unanimously decided to suspend him," he said.

Ghosh, who has been grilled by police multiple times in connection with Saradha chit fund scam - the biggest financial scandal to rock West Bengal - lashed out against the party leadership at an event Sep 20, alleging he was being made a scapegoat by those involved in the scam and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.

Two other Lok Sabha members Tapas Pal and Satabdi Roy, who had accompanied Ghosh at the event, too aired their grievances at the forum.

The Trinamool disciplinary committee met hours later and decided to show cause the trio for their "anti-party" remarks.

Chatterjee said following the show cause letter, both Pal and Roy wrote to party chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regretting their act and tendering an apology.

"But Ghosh did not stop his anti-party activities. He did not even respond to the show cause letter," said Chatterjee.

Ghosh claimed he has been "punished without a trial", and accused a section of the leadership of taking the decision "in haste". He said he will talk to the party leadership about the action against him.

He claimed he was yet to receive the show cause notice and got to know about his suspension only from the media.

Standing by the journalist-turned-MP, Mitra said even convicts getting capital punishment were given lot of opportunities to defend themselves.

Rubbishing Chatterjee's claim that a show cause letter was sent to Ghosh, Mitra said: "I've been hearing for almost a year that my wife Shikha Mitra (a party legislator) has been suspended for anti-party activity. So far, she has not received any suspension letter."

Asked whether he thought Ghosh and two other MPs had made anti-party comments at a blood donation camp organised by him, Mitra said: "I don't think he said anything against party chief Mamata Banerjee or the leadership. He had some grievances against some leaders, which he articulated."

In north Bengal's Malda, Union Minister of State for Health and Congress leader Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury dropped a bombshell, saying eight to ten Trinamool MPs have approached his party as they were unhappy with the "autocratic manner in which Trinamool is being run" and could join his party after Diwali.

Mitra,a former state Congress chief and now perceived as the rallying point for Trinamool dissenters, responded: "I don't know where he has got the news that I will return to the Congress. .. if I at all return, I will return openly, and not secretly."

Ghosh, who earlier headed Saradha's media arm, has made a series of allegations against the party over the past few days.

He even claimed that three Trinamool Lok Sabha members secretly met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's political adviser Ahmed Patel at a tea party in Delhi.

He also alleged that a Trinamool leader, demanding his resignation on the scam, had in the past asked for Rs.4 crore from Saradha boss Sudipta Sen.

The scandal came to light in April when the Saradha Group closed shop across Bengal, unable to pay back the depositors, mainly poor people in small towns and villages, who had parked their life's savings with the group, lured by the promise of huge returns.

Sen, along with several of his key aides, is now behind bars.

As the company went bust, there was a spate of suicides by agents and investors and protests across the state.

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