New Delhi: The cut-money scandal in West Bengal found a mention in Parliament as well when BJP MP from Hooghly Locket Chatterjee raised in during the Zero Hour. Chatterjee has said that even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accepted that TMC leaders take it.

“Cut-money is taken by TMC leaders from birth till death. TMC leaders from lower to upper level are taking it. Chief Minister had said to her party leaders to keep 25% of the amount and give 75% to her,” she said. Chatterjee had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour on Tuesday.

On the same day, the Calcutta High Court directed Bengal Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick, his assistant, a councillor and the state to respond within four weeks to a complaint filed by two businessman brothers that they had been asked to pay Rs 30 lakh for permission to set up a nursing home.

This is the first time that a minister in the Mamata Cabinet has been dragged into the scandal rocking the state. Till now, allegations had been labelled against panchayat level leaders of the TMC. Minister Mullick contested the extortion complaint and claimed, “The complainants are BJP workers who have levelled these allegations at the prodding of a ‘dada’. They are themselves embroiled in several criminal cases.”

In their complaint, brothers Sandip and Pankaj Agarwal had said they had submitted a proposal in August 2017 to set up a nursing home in Asansol. They were called to a councillor’s office at Salt Lake in Kolkata to discuss the proposal but were asked to pay Rs 30 lakh.

They claim they paid Rs 4 lakh immediately and Rs 16 lakh later. They say they have also approached the police but their complaint wasn’t registered. They also allege that several criminal cases were lodged against them at different police stations later.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, near Salt Lake, posters have reportedly come up, accusing councillor Amal Chakraborty and Cabinet minister Sadhan Pande of taking cut money. A defiant Chakraborty said, “They should inquire who is putting up these posters at night…I have spoken to BJP leaders and they have denied it.”

TMC leaders have got dragged into the controversy ever since party MP Shantanu Sen slapped a legal notice on realtor Sumanta Choudhury who had accused him of extortion. Choudhury has claimed he paid Sen “in phases” to protect his construction business.