Jaitley slams Cong leaders for protest against IT raids

Last Updated 03 May 2019, 07:51 IST

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday criticised JDS and Congress leaders for organising a protest outside the income tax office in Bengaluru over raids conducted by I-T department on PWD contractors and engineers alleging they were politically motivated.

"The Bengaluru case is a textbook method of the UPA on 2 fronts: use government money, round trip it through contractors and beneficiaries to enrich themselves and then lip sympathy for federalism destroying it whenever the opportunity arises. This is a very transparent self-goal," Jaitley said in his blog titled 'The UPA makes corruption a cause'.

Led by Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, the Congress-JDS ruling organised a protest in front of the Income Tax department at Bengaluru on Thursday against a statewide crackdown on his party men and others.

Jaitley said that it was unprecedented that the chief minister of a state joined the street protest against income tax searches with a political motivation.

"The disproportionality of the reaction of the Congress and the JDS raises a needle of suspicion. Was the minister's nephew a PWD contractor to whom largesses have been given a case of nepotism?

The CM and the ministers who joined the protest need to answer these questions," Jaitley said.

Even as the JDS and Congress leaders in the state alleged that ministers were searched, the best evidence they could provide was that the nephew' of a minister was searched, Jaitley said, adding that even the tax authorities have issued a statement saying that no MP, MLA or minister was searched.

Questioning whether states' attitude is a threat to federalism, Jaitley said federalism is not merely the rights of the states. Indian federalism entails India as a union of states.

"The rights of the union are equally important. Security of India, sovereignty, dealing with terrorism, managing the borders, custom checkpoints, income tax enforcement are all amongst the several constitutional powers of the union.

"If the states stand in way of any of them it is guilty of breaching federal norms. Can a state barge its police into the customs area and direct the customs as to what is to be done? This would be a threat to federalism," he said.

Jaitley said many states have stopped giving police security to income tax authorities when they conduct their operations.

"Alternatively, when state police is asked for, the information is leaked out to the political government and it reaches the targets of the operations. Tax authorities increasingly have to rely on central forces. In the Kashmir valley recently, searches were conducted under the governor's rule after 17 years. These taxes are meant for the welfare of the poor in India," he added.

(Published 30 March 2019, 15:46 IST)

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