Updated: February 6, 2019 8:38:39 am
MONDAY’S entry into the BJP of Bharati Ghosh marks another U-turn in the long journey of the MBA degree holder, who went to the London School of Economics on a fellowship, who worked with the United Nations, and went on to become West Bengal top cop.
The 55-year-old’s swift climb was largely seen as a result of her proximity to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who would publicly refer to her as “bhalo meye (good girl)” and “daughter”. Ghosh, in turn, would call her “Maa” of Junglemahal, the area which was cleared of Naxal dominance during her posting there under Mamata.
For the past one year though, the West Bengal administration had been on the trail of Ghosh, on charges of extortion and fraud. As she joined the BJP on Monday, Ghosh hinted that the TMC government had links with chit fund scams. “Mamata Banerjee is saying (Kolkata Police Commissioner) Rajeev Kumar is the best officer in the world. Why, being the head of the SIT (probing chit fund scams), he did not take action against anyone?”
In 2011, soon after Mamata had won her first term in power, Ghosh, then a DySP, was promoted from West Bengal Police Service to IPS. Her posting to West Midnapore district established her as the CM’s blue-eyed officer as she became a part of the TMC government’s crackdown on Maoists. Ghosh remained in the region for over six years, becoming the longest-serving woman police chief of Maoist-hit Jhargram and West Midnapore. In 2014, she won the CM’s medal for commendable service.
A senior police officer said, “Ghosh was a TMC insider… a party member in uniform.”
It was due to this closeness that Ghosh was transferred out of the area during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, with opposition parties complaining against her to the Election Commission. Once the polls were over, she was reinstated.
Party sources say Ghosh started falling out of favour after senior TMC leader Mukul Roy left to join the BJP. She was believed to be also close to Roy.
After the Sabang bypoll in December 2017, Ghosh was transferred to a less significant posting in Barrackpore. On January 30, 2018, Ghosh submitted a written complaint to the Union Home Ministry, expressing her desire to resign.
On February 1, the West Bengal Police registered a case against Ghosh, her husband and a few other police officers based on a complaint by Midnapore resident Chandan Majhi, who alleged that the police officers had taken 375 grams of gold from him on the promise of high returns at Ghosh’s behest, but never paid him back. Her Chartered Accountant husband, eight police officials, were arrested soon after.
During raids at Ghosh’s residence in Naktala and two other premises in Madurdaha and Sarat Chatterjee Avenue, the CID claimed to have recovered 50 original land sales deeds amounting to Rs 300 crore, tablets, pen drives, hard disks, gold jewellery and 57 bottles of imported whiskey.
Ghosh went to the Supreme Court in October last year. It ordered that ‘no coercive action’ be taken against her. Her husband MAV Raju was held by the CID in August. The case remains sub-judice. The CID says it can take action if she is booked in any fresh case.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from an undisclosed location while “on the run”, Ghosh had accused the Mamata administration of a “witch hunt” and said she was targeted for “refusing to do its bidding’’, which included ensuring that the BJP’s vote share in the Midnapore-Jhargram area does not increase.
Ghosh referred to the Sabang bypoll, saying she didn’t follow orders. “Inevitably, the BJP vote-share increased. The party asked me for an explanation, then I got transferred.”
While the TMC won by over 64,000 votes in Sabang, the BJP vote-share rose from 2.6 per cent in 2016 to 18 per cent in the 2017 bypoll.
Taking on Mamata, Ghosh now says, “When Mamata was in the Opposition, her image was different and pure. Now she has changed… There is no democracy in West Bengal. ‘Crimocracy’ and ‘Thugocracy’ have replaced it. When people move from truth to falsehood, Bharati Ghosh also changes.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.