Politics

Who is Saayoni Ghosh? Actor & Mamata’s ‘streetfighter’ who was arrested, then got bail in Tripura

Saayoni Ghosh (right) with Trinamool Congress leader Sushmita Dev in Agartala | ANI
Saayoni Ghosh (right) with Trinamool Congress leader Sushmita Dev in Agartala | ANI


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Kolkata: Trinamool Congress Youth Wing president Saayoni Ghosh, who was arrested by Tripura Police in Agartala Sunday on “attempt to murder” and other charges, and got bail Monday, has the full backing of her party leaders.

West Bengal Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee, who travelled to New Delhi Monday, said she would protest against Ghosh’s arrest and raise the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mamata’s nephew and Trinamool national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee took the first flight out to Agartala Monday morning to show solidarity with Ghosh, who was campaigning for the upcoming civic body polls in Tripura. 

TMC Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy, who was part of a party delegation that submitted a memorandum about violence in Tripura to Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday and raised the matter of Ghosh’s arrest, said after she was granted bail, “Conspiracy to harass a young woman has failed. The due process of law was followed. Saayoni is developing a popularity of her own.” 

The immediate, vocal support for Ghosh clearly indicates her position in the party. The 28-year-old actor, who started her career as a character artiste in Bengali serials and telefilms, and later acted in Bengali movies, joined the Trinamool in February and was given a ticket right away for the Bengal Assembly polls. The party fielded her from the Asansol South constituency, and the affidavit she submitted to the Election Commission stated she has passed the 12th standard. 


Also read: Trinamool leader arrested for ‘trying to mow down’ BJP workers in Tripura, TMC says fake case


Organising workers, holding meetings

This is the second time that Saayoni Ghosh has visited Tripura. Apart from organising party workers ahead of Abhishek Banerjee’s first road show, which was scheduled this week but was later disallowed, she has been holding roadside meetings in the past week with other Trinamool leaders. 

Even before Abhishek could set foot in Agartala for the last leg of campaigning for the civic polls, the police arrested Ghosh Sunday after summoning her to a police station. She was booked under sections 153, 153A, 506, 307, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, which includes ‘attempt to murder’, and ‘promoting enmity among people’. 

Ghosh had allegedly tried to run over BJP workers at Tripura CM Biplab Deb’s public meeting Saturday, which she was driving past. She allegedly pelted the workers with stones and used foul language. It was claimed that in the ensuing chaos, several BJP workers were injured. She also allegedly shouted Trinamool’s ‘khela hobe’ slogan at the BJP workers. After being produced in court Monday, Ghosh was granted bail.

The Trinamool Congress vigorously denied all allegations against Ghosh. The party said its workers were mercilessly beaten up by BJP men at the police station Sunday, where Ghosh was being interrogated. 

Political debut 

Popular actor Ghosh was in the news in January when former Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy filed an FIR against her for “hurting Hindu sentiments”, tagging a 2015 tweet from her social media page. 

The screenshot of the “objectionable” tweet attached with the police complaint by Roy was a meme of the Hindu god Shiva. A separate case was also filed against the actor in Guwahati. In turn, Ghosh filed a complaint with the Cyber Cell of the Kolkata Police for receiving online “death and rape threats”. 

The actor claimed her account was “hacked” when she wasn’t active on the page, and that the mischievous meme didn’t represent her views. 

Ghosh officially joined the TMC on 25 February during a programme attended by Mamata Banerjee, and vowed to speak out against all forms of corruption and wrongdoing.


Also read: TMC leaders claim Amit Shah has assured them he’ll seek report on Tripura violence from CM


A ‘streetfighter’ in Asansol

After being nominated from Asansol, Ghosh shifted base to the city, lived in a rented house and tried to connect with voters. Every day, she could be seen starting her campaign as early as 7 am, focusing on the women and youth of her constituency. 

She tried to strike a chord with the electorate: Taking down chutney recipes from old ladies during door-to-door campaigning, or climbing down into an Eastern Coalfields Ltd coal mine to seek votes from the miners, who come from local villages.

When the CM virtually campaigned for Ghosh, she called the actor a “streetfighter” — a tag worn by Mamata Banerjee herself with pride. 

However, Ghosh lost to BJP’s Agnimitra Paul, a fashion designer by profession, by less than 5,000 votes. It was a close fight: While Ghosh got 83,394 votes with a 42.82 per cent vote share, Paul managed 87,881 votes with a 45.13 per cent vote share. 

Ghosh said she would continue to work for the people of her constituency despite the people’s verdict.

Though she lost, Banerjee gave her a new responsibility. In June, Ghosh was appointed TMC Youth Wing president — a key position. Indeed, Ghosh took over from none other than Abhishek Banerjee.

Support for Ghosh 

At a media interaction Monday, Abhishek said, “The PM and HM have come to Bengal and said khela hobe… Why weren’t they arrested? But Saayoni was arrested yesterday. Our humility is not our weakness.”

Trinamool leader Sushmita Dev, who is also in Tripura, told ThePrint: “This is a false case against Saayoni Ghosh. She doesn’t have any criminal record, she is a law abiding citizen. It’s a politically motivated case.” 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)


Also read: Trinamool MP Sushmita Dev ‘dragged out of car, assaulted’ in Tripura, says attack pre-planned


 

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