On the back foot over the chit fund scam in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress on Thursday raised questions over the role of a senior Chennai-based lawyer who is married to a Congress union minister.
Sudipta Sen, Chairman of the scandal-ridden Saradha Group, who was arrested two days ago, has said in a purported letter to CBI that politicians, journalists and lawyers had blackmailed him and taken money assuring him protection.
Those named by him included TMC MPs Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh, who have denied the charges, a Congress minister from Assam and Nalini Chidambaram, wife of Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
Without mentioning her name, the TMC put a series of questions on its official website under the headline "Why was a Chennai lady lawyer fixing deals in the Saradha scam? Congress minister must clarify".
Among the questions was the allegation by TMC that the woman lawyer charged Rs 1 crore to draft an agreement and asked why was she paid such a "generous" fee and what was the quid pro quo. Another question was why was a lawyer from Chennai engaged when there were so many good lawyers were available in New Delhi and Guwahati.
However, sources close to Nalini Chidambaram rejected the allegation that she applied pressure on Saradha Group to invest in a northeast television channel. Instead, she advised the channel against accepting funds from Saradha Group, the sources said.
The sources said Nalini Chidambaram was engaged as a senior lawyer to appear before on behalf of Manoranjana Sinh, a former journalist and wife of a former union minister Matang Sinh, in a petition filed by her before the Company Law Board against her husband and M/s Positive TV Ltd.
They said Manoranjana was planning to set up a TV and she approached Nalini Chidambaram. There was a proposal of Saradha Group to invest in a company which Manoranjana was planning to set up.
Manoranjana wanted due diligence of Saradha Group to be done and Nalini Chidambaram was one of the lawyers who did the due diligence along with other lawyers and an auditors firm in Bangalore.
The sources said Nalini Chidambaram and the other lawyers, in their due diligence report, asked Manoranjana not to go ahead with accepting the investment from Saradha Group and the proposal was dropped.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed between Manorajana's company and Saradha Group was also dropped after the due diligence report, the sources said adding that basically the advise given by Nalini Chidambaram was against accept funds from Saradha Group.