Kolkata: Amidst speculation that Saradha group promoter Sudipta Sen used his media groups to portray an image of being close to the Trinamool Congress, the party continues to distance itself from Saradha. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has often tried to paint the media red. But she is now getting a taste of her own medicine.
When the bubble burst, Sen was the first to shut down his media group accusing the face of his channel and newspapers, Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh, of extortion. He also named MP Srinjoy Bose, who continues to deny the charges.
Sudipta Sen was on a media acquisition spree since 2010. By 2012, he owned 18 newspapers and channels in Bengal and Assam, all of them pandered to the TMC. Subir Bhowmik, a former BBC journalist, who joined Seven Sisters Post, a Saradha publication, as editor left his job after a few months citing interference. "I left the job, I had to, I was asked by Sen to go soft on some leaders. I am an editor, how can I do that," Bhowmik said.
In Bengal Post, the problem was more acute when business interests guided journalism. Gautam Chowdhury, Editor, Bengal Post, said, "I was asked by the Sudipta Sen to take a pro-government stand which I refused, but yes our editorial was pro-government."
Mamata continues to deny her party's association with the Saradha group, blaming the Centre instead. "Who gives licence to these channels, the central government. So don't single out publications. Don't spit on yourself," Mamata said.
When Saradha went under and its media collaborations were terminated, more than one thousand media personnel lost their jobs including journalists, media houses owned by Sudipta Sen are finding it tough to get new promoters, an alarming consequence of unscrupulous business interests and political opportunism that cost hundreds their livelihood.