In February 2012, when the Samajwadi Party was in the middle of the crucial Assembly elections which would catapult it to power in Uttar Pradesh, it got notable financial help from unlikely quarters. Sudip Sen, a “Nazrulgeeti singer” from Kolkata, gave the party Rs 1.50 crore, becoming its largest donor in eight years.
As per the Election Commission of India website, which lists voluntary contributions of more than Rs 20,000, Sen gave the money in three transactions in February 2012. Earlier, his wife Aditi contributed Rs 6 lakh in December 2011.
While Sen and his wife have no special interest in Uttar Pradesh — they run a cultural institute in Kolkata — that is set to change. The Akhilesh Yadav government recently appointed Sen chairman of Uttar Pradesh Tourism Corporation, with the rank of minister of state.
Their institute, called Basanti Bidya Bithi, lists encouraging girls to take up music as its motto and offers courses in Rabindrasangeet, Kathak and Odissi dances, vocal classical music and Nazrulgeeti, thumri, ghazal, bhajan and other forms. Sen is president while Aditi is secretary of the institute, which was started by his grandfather, the late Manoranjan Sen.
“I am a Nazrulgeeti singer. I am currently involved with the institute alone, and have no other occupation,” said Sen. Nazrulgeeti refers to the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the great Bengali poet. As the new head of UP Tourism Corporation, however, Sen will soon be shifting to Lucknow.
In the entire 2011-12 financial year, the Samajwadi Party received a total of Rs 3.57 crore from eight contributors in amounts of more than Rs 20,000, and Sen’s contribution was the largest.
Even within the party in Lucknow, Sen is unknown, and his appointment to the tourism corporation took veterans by surprise. Those who claimed to know him seemed not to know him all that much. For example, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said: “He is from Lucknow. He has been living in Lucknow for long and has been a very old member of the Samajwadi Party.’’
Sen also claimed to have been with the party “for years”. When asked to elaborate, he said: “I have been with (Kiranmoy) Nandaji for a long time. I was with him in his Socialist Party and when he shifted to the Samajwadi Party, I also came along with him.”
Nanda, also based in Kolkata, is the SP general secretary. At election time, he was often seen at the SP headquarters, causing party leaders to wonder about his role. It was suggested that Nanda was SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s pointman for the Left and Mamata Banerjee. Soon after the elections, the SP had sent Nanda to the Rajya Sabha.
Besides the Sen couple, the other big contributors to the SP in 2011-12 were Noida-based General Electoral Trust (Rs 1 crore); New Delhi-based Win Medicare Pvt Ltd (Rs 25 lakh); New Delhi-based GS Pharmabutor Pvt Ltd (Rs 25 lakh); Sanyal Enterprises, Ranaghat Nadia, West Bengal (Rs 25 lakh in three transactions); Amethi’s Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (Rs 25 lakh); and Rajesh Yadav from Ghaziabad (Rs 1 lakh).
Sudip Sen largest donor since 2003-04
In 2009-10, party received Rs 1.94 crore in the form of voluntary contributions of more than Rs 20,000 each from eight donations, the single largest was Rs 50 lakh.
In 2008-09, it received Rs 39.50 lakh from 157 contributors, the largest was Rs 50,000.
In 2007-08, Rs 11 lakh in three contributions, the largest Rs 10 lakh.
In 2006-07, Rs 3.57 lakh in nine contributions, the largest Rs 1.51 lakh.
In 2005-06, a single contribution of Rs 3.01 lakh.
In 2004-05, Rs 1.12 crore in six contributions, the largest Rs 60.94 lakh.
In 2003-04, Rs 1.22 crore in 26 contributions, the largest Rs 16.86 lakh.