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Newsmaker | Saryu Roy, the Independent Jharkhand MLA and politician-activist who loves a good fight

Saryu Roy recently alleged that the Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta had disbursed Covid incentives equivalent to a month’s basic salary to 60 employees, including himself.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: May 6, 2022 8:24:26 am
In 2019, Saryu Roy ontested as an Independent against Das from Jamshedpur East and defeated the incumbent CM by over 15,700 votes. (Twitter/File)

Jharkhand Independent MLA Saryu Roy, 70, takes his crusader role seriously. The ‘giantkiller’, whose allegations are said to have brought down two chief ministers, was in the spotlight recently when he released documents alleging that state Health Minister Banna Gupta misused his office and disbursed Covid incentives equivalent to a month’s basic salary to 60 employees, including himself.

The ‘revelations’ led to the Jharkhand Police in turn filing an FIR against “unknown persons” under the Officials Secret Act for allegedly “leaking the documents”.

Formerly a BJP leader, Roy was food minister in the Raghubar Das Cabinet – a turbulent stint that saw Roy criticising the government over a number of its decisions, including the allocation of mining leases.

Ahead of the December 2019 elections, Roy quit the BJP after being denied a ticket. He contested as an Independent against Das from Jamshedpur East and pulled off a stunning upset, defeating the incumbent CM by over 15,700 votes.

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While in the BJP and even after he quit, he levelled a string of corruption allegations against Das. One of these is over the award of a consultancy contract for a sewage project in Ranchi to a company called ‘Meinhardt’. Roy also alleged corruption in the distribution of ‘toffees and caps and T-shirts’ during a ceremony in 2016 to mark Jharkhand Divas.

In both the cases, Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who also holds the Vigilance portfolio, gave the go-ahead to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate the charges against the former CM. The ACB is also investigating alleged irregularities in the construction of the new Jharkhand High Court building that was started during Das’s regime.

In his over five decades in politics, Roy has been at the centre of some of the most high-profile corruption exposes – from the fodder scam investigation against RJD chief Lalu Prasad to the alleged mining scam under former CM Madhu Koda.

In the 1990s, Roy had gone public against then Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra, accusing him and his Cabinet of being neck-deep in corruption.

His critics say that for someone who is a self-professed crusader-politician, Roy is allegedly easy on Soren, and hasn’t gone all out against the CM, including over allegations that Soren issued a mining lease to himself.

“Although he has hit out at Health Minister Gupta, Roy is seen as soft on Hemant Soren. One of the main reasons is that he wants Soren on his side so that action is taken against Raghubar Das on his allegations,” said an insider.

A source close to Roy, however, said, “It is not that he is soft on Hemant Soren. If he gets solid evidence against corruption, he will raise the issue.”

Saying Roy isn’t slowing down, the source added: “Saryu Roy has been an activist leader. His party, which he has named Bhartiya Jantantra Morcha, may take centre stage in the next Assembly elections with like-minded people. There is a vacuum, people saw what happened in Punjab.”

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