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Slur on minister for funds threat

Krishnendu Choudhury

Malda, March 23: An income-tax lawyer here today filed a police complaint alleging that tourism minister Krishnendu Choudhury had called him to ask for Rs 2 crore for the Trinamul Congress’s election funds and threatened that the advocate would face consequences if the amount was not paid.

Choudhury, who is also the chairman of Englishbazar municipality, said there was a “deep-rooted conspiracy” behind the complaint and he would file a defamation suit against the lawyer.

Sanjay Sharma, 45, lodged the complaint with Englishbazar police and sought security for himself and his family.

Sharma said a Trinamul member had called him on his mobile phone last night and said the minister wanted him to go to the party office in Kalitala. “I told the Trinamul worker, Sanjoy Das, that I was busy with clients and could not step out of my chamber. Then, the Trinamul councillor of Englishbazar municipality, Pratibha Singh, also called me to convey the same message and I told her also that I was busy.”

The lawyer alleged that later, Choudhury had called him on his mobile phone. “The minister said I should come to the party office immediately. It was around 9.45pm. I asked him about the urgency and the minister told me I would have to donate Rs 2 crore to Trinamul’s election funds. I made it clear to him that it was not possible for me to pay such a huge amount. The minister became enraged and said I would have to face the consequences if I did not pay up by Sunday morning,” he said.

Sharma claimed that around 11pm yesterday, a team of policemen had come to his house in the Baluchar area and wanted him to accompany them to the police station. “When I asked the policemen what charges were against me and whether they had a warrant, the policemen left without providing a satisfactory answer.”

Sharma alleged this morning, civic staff had come to a site near his home where he was constructing a five-storeyed house and stopped the work.

“I am building the house with full civic clearances. Still, they stopped the work.”

Choudhury denied the charge. “I smell a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the charge. Let me say categorically that I didn’t demand Rs 2 crore from anyone. I will file a defamation case against the complainant. I had wanted to meet the lawyer to discuss a matter involving his relative forging my signature. I also wanted to discuss several complaints that had been sent to the civic body against the house he was building. No policeman was sent by me to his house,” said Choudhury, who is also the MLA of Englishbazar.

The minister said the CPM and the Congress were trying to “discredit” him ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The lawyer said he was not involved in party politics.