The meteoric rise and fall of Indrani and Manoranjana
Indrani Mukerjea (45) and Manoranjana Sinh (50), the glamorous media honchos are now languishing in jail and charge sheeted. Strangely the media in India has been reticent to report news about them. As Indrani’s crime was related to murder, the news is coming out about the court procedures. There were initial cover-ups in certain media till she was arrested in August 2015. As far as Manoranjana is concerned, national media is certainly blacking out the court procedures against her. She was arrested in October 2015 for financial crimes and money laundering related to Saradha Chit Fund scam. Several times the Court in Kolkata rejected bail and she was in the hospital. But this was not news in national media, simply due to her clout in Delhi’s media world.
The Saradha scam itself is connected with media, though media houses try to dilute it by labeling it as a simple chit fund scam. The fact is that media was blackmailing the Saradha Chit fund owner Sudipto Sen and taking huge money from him for not reporting the chit fund frauds. Manoranjana was one such media house owner, forcing him to pump money into her business like other accused from media fields like Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh. For not annoying media guys, the chit fund owner Sudipto Sen gave as much money he earned from Chit funds across North Eastern India by fooling common man. Apart from Manoranjana’s clout in Delhi media, the media houses knew well, that detailed reporting of her arrest and crime would lead to further exposes of blackmailing of media houses in making extra money. Sudipto Sen’s confession letter exposes how many in media blackmailed him and how he was forced to invest in media houses.
What is common between Indrani and Manoranjana are that both were from middle-class families who rose to become billionaires in a short span of time through love affairs leading to tying the knot with powerful men. Indrani married to Peter Mukerjea, the media mogul engaged in mindboggling deals with the corporate world and politicians. She was a staffer in Peter’s firms and leaving her earlier husband and kids became the media baron’s second wife. Indrani was controlling Peter in all ways. She was ruling the roost in his media empire, built up with blessings of Lutyen’s Delhi top politicians in mid-90s. Peter’s media venture earned thousands of crores simply due to the sweet deals with politicians and it is an open secret that gorgeous Indrani was behind all the success of these deals.
Mumbai based crime reporters still have no answer as to how they missed Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora’s murder for nearly three years. She was missing from April 2012 and the local police those days registered a case after finding her unidentified body parts. At least Sheena’s absence from Page 3 World of Mumbai was also not doubted by anyone! Indrani and Peter are the mentors and recruiters of so many glitterati in Indian Television world and it is easy to see why the leads provided by crime reporters of Mumbai went straight to the dust bin in the early days. Anyway, the long arm of the law has now caught up with Indrani and Peter. The media world is still keeping silent about their money swindling in the television channels floated during the late 90s. It is a known fact that many VIPs in media and politics got their pound of flesh in these dubious deals. The case is now limited to murder and no one wants to talk about the money that has come and gone through tax havens.
While Indrani started her career as clerical staff, Manoranjana started her career as a journalist in Delhi in the early 90s. Her father K N Gupta was a veteran journalist and was a colleague of BJP leader L K Advani’s journalist days in the now defunct, ‘Mother Land’ publication which enjoyed RSS’s patronage. Dashing Manoranjana was working with the Financial Express in the early 90s and was covering the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) beat at very young age and later fell in love with Matang Sinh, the Minister of State in PMO during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s days.
The gossip that was doing the rounds in Delhi in the 90s was that Manoranjana was handling a junior minister in the administration. Anyway, this is not the first kind of affair between lady journos and powerful politicians. The murder of Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar explains the dangerous collusion that exists between lady journos and politicians. It is an open secret that across the world lady journos enjoy the benefits of access journalism and further their careers. Some fall while walking the thin line of ice while others succeed.
Manoranjana enjoyed the dangerous combination of a power cocktail of having a husband in Congress and her family background with Right Wing. Soon she became a media baroness in the North Eastern sector by obtaining TV channel licenses during the NDA -1 regime. Clearly she had a lot of clout in the Union Home Ministry headed by her father’s close friend L K Advani. Even after Advani’s exit, Manoranjana continued to enjoy connections in the Home Ministry. Entrepreneurs in North Eastern states need the blessing of this Ministry as it controls several matters related to these states.
That is why in Saradha Scam, the then Home Minister P Chidambaram’s wife Nalini’s name cropped up with Manoranjana. While Nalini has not yet come under into CBI and Enforcement Directorate’s radar, it may not be for long. The chit fund owner Sudipto Sen’s confession letter details of money trails with Manoranjana and role of Nalini in such deals.
Recently Manoranjana and her estranged husband Matang Sinh were charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). When Narendra Modi came to power Manoranjana was knocking at all power quarters to try and save herself from the Saradha Scam and she even crash landed Nagpur to attend RSS functions. She was seen in all government programs especially like ‘Make in India’ of Prime Minister. She and her father were seen in all government functions, mostly uninvited. This gate crashing was seen as a last attempt to escape from the cases.
Now the two powerful ladies – Indrani and Manoranjana – who enjoyed clout in the media world have succumbed to long arms of law and these cases will go on for a long time. Whatever the outcome, these two ladies have become the case studies of women entrepreneurship, where the backdoor scenes behind their rise are never discussed.