Kolkata, April 22 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday tried to defend a party MP who headed the media operations of the chit fund-funded Saradha Group which has gone bust, but said “the law would take its own course if he has done any wrong”.
Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh, who was CEO of the group’s media ventures that included a slew of television channels and newspapers, has come under fire after the company downed shutters after defaulting on repayment to depositors.
However, Ghosh has claimed that he was only a salaried employee of the group’s media unit and had put in his papers. “I was never a director or owner. I was never connected with any other aspect of the business of the group,” he said in a Facebook post.
Banerjee virtually echoed Ghosh while replying to queries from scribes.
Asked whether her government planned to bring the MP to justice, Banerjee replied: “The person you are referring to was just an employee. If he has done any wrong, the law will take its own course”.
She then hit back at the reporter: “The organisation where you worked earlier was also funded by a chit fund. Journalists work for various organisations at various points of their career. They have every right.”
“I am very rough and tough. The government will take stringent action. There will be a thorough investigation. Names of lot of journalists will also crop up. If any MP has done any wrong, law will take its own course,” the chief minister said at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings.
Banerjee, who repeatedly lost her cool during the media interaction, accused a section of journalists of trying to “protect” the erstwhile Left Front government.
“What has happened is a serious matter. Don’t belittle it by asking political questions at the behest of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist). Don’t give protection to the LF government. If you individually try to do so, that is wrong”.
Naming the CPI-M mouthpiece Bengali daily Ganashakti and two other channels, she said “They carry large number of ads from chit funds. Why does Ganashakti splash advertisements of chit funds on its front page?”
Banerjee claimed that she had given Rajya Sabha nomination to three journalists including Ghosh as a gesture. “They were not in our party. I had given them as a gesture towards the media. Next time I can’t include journalists.”
When a scribe asked about her and other Trinamool leaders’ presence at various programmes of the Saradha Group, Banerjee said: “What is the harm in that? If some media houses invite us, shouldn’t we go? I have also gone. I have also attended programmes organised by your house.”
Then she ridiculed the journalist. “What sort of questions are you asking? You have set it up very well. Great job!”