A SALT Lake-based businessman on Tuesday accused Trinamool Congress MLA and Biddhannagar Mayor Sabyasachi Dutta of demanding Rs 1 crore as extortion. Dutta, however, denied the charges and maintained he did not know the trader, Madhusudan Chakraborty. Chakraborty alleged Dutta had asked him for Rs 1 crore on Monday to run his party’s campaign in Tripura. Dutta is TMC’s observer for Tripura, which will go to polls on February 18. The trader claimed Dutta had demanded money even after he had given Rs 2.3 lakh to him through Bidyut Ganguly — an alleged associate of the mayor . He had also lodged a complaint against Dutta on Monday, he added.
“I received a call from Dutta on February 2, asking me to hand over Rs 2.3 lakh to buy party flags and hoardings. He asked me to give the money to his middleman, Bidyut Ganguly. I gave his middleman the money the same day in my office. The next day, I again received a call from Dutta asking for Rs 30 lakh for the Tripura elections,” Chakraborty told mediapersons.
“On February 5, I called Dutta to say I would not be able to give him such a huge amount. But he insisted and threatened me with dire consequences if I failed. I then told him that I will give him the money on February 12. However, I could not give him the money. Yesterday, he again called and asked Rs 1 crore,” he said.
Chakraborty showed purported video clips of Ganguly counting money at his office. “I have lodged a formal complaint against Dutta at Biddhannagar North police station. I want to appeal to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to save me from Dutta. I have audio recordings of our conversation… which I can give as evidence,” he said.
When contacted, Dutta, who is in Tripura, said, “I do not know this person. If he is sure that I have taken money from him, then I will tell him to lodge a complaint against me and prove his allegations.”
Putting his weight behind Dutta, state minister Firhad Hakim accused the BJP of trying to tarnish Trinamool’s image. “It is BJP’s handiwork to derail our party’s progress in Tripura. As far as I know, this businessman is a fraud. Three cases are pending against him and he was arrested along with a BJP leader some months ago in a case.”
“He has relations to a BJP leader who was with Trinamool for a long time,” Hakim said, allegedly referring to Mukul Roy. State BJP general secretary Debashree Roy Chowdhuri said, “The Trinamool government has created a record in extortion and syndicate raj… We demand a probe to find out the truth. Secondly, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must take action against Dutta if the allegations are true.”