Kunal accuses BJP’s Kalyan Choubey of offering ‘position in sports organisation for bypoll support’

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Kunal Ghosh on Tuesday made a startling claim by saying that BJP’s candidate for by-poll in Maniktala Assembly Constituency Kalyan Choubey called him on Sunday night to offer “packages” and a portfolio in the national sports arena if Ghosh helps him in the by-elections.

Ghosh accused Choubey who is the president of All India Football Federation of offering a bribe. The development comes a day before the by-polls in the four Bengal Assembly constituencies of Maniktala, Bagdah, Ranaghat South and Raiganj. Ghosh, ahead of the by-poll was appointed as convener of the Trinamool Congress’ four-member committee to manage the Maniktala constituency.

During a press conference, Ghosh said: “Around 11.30 pm on Sunday, July 7, the BJP nominee and AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey called me, requesting my help in the by-election, knowing fully well that I am the Trinamool Congress’ convener for the by-election. I have shared a partial clipping of the conversation on my social media account as well.” Ghosh further added: “Chaubey tried to allure me by saying that he would try to accommodate me in a position in a state-level or national-level sports organisation if I help him in the election. He is misusing his official position. He is on the seat of AIFF president to serve his political purpose.”

Speaking to the reporters, Ghosh said that he can hand over his phone to the CBI to examine the voice if Choubey denies his phone call.

Ghosh also reminded that after his release from the prison in the Saradha case in October 2016, the Narendra Modi government had offered him the post of the telecom advisory committee’s chairman but he had turned it down. He was still a Rajya Sabha MP then, though suspended from the Trinamool Congress.

The Maniktala seat has been vacant since Sadhan Pande’s death in February 2022, as Choubey had moved court challenging the 2021 Assembly election result when he lost from the same seat to the deceased leader. Chaubey withdrew the case after the Supreme Court questioned why the case could not be heard on a daily basis and threatened to strip him of his official positions in the AIFF and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), where he is a joint secretary. Trinamool Congress now fielded Sadhan Pande’s widow, Supti Pande, from the Maniktala seat.Chaubey claimed he did not make any offer to Ghosh and the audio was doctored.

He claimed that he did not try to bribe him. If the entire audio clipping is released it would be clear. Choubey also claimed that he knows many people from other parties as well and therefore he has appealed to all of them to support him in this election.

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