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BJP indulging in 'financial terrorism', says Congress

Maken said the Modi government has 'looted' about Rs 65.89 crore from its accounts through the I-T Department.
Last Updated 22 February 2024, 08:04 IST

New Delhi: As the Income Tax Department “withdrew” Rs 65.89 crore from accounts of Congress in connection with a tax notice issued to it, the party on Thursday accused the ruling BJP of indulging in “financial terrorism” to "economically cripple" it before the Lok Sabha election.

It accused the Narendra Modi government of "stealing our money from the banks", terming it an attempt to "murder democracy" and "dragging the largest democracy into a dictatorship".

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal said, "The BJP is imposing financial terrorism on the Congress...What does this mean? Just before the Lok Sabha elections, the account of the main Opposition party was hijacked by the BJP government...We have only one question. Has any such instance happened under Congress-led governments? Has BJP ever faced such problems?"

"This is denying a minimum level playing field...This is an attempt to shut the voice of the entire Opposition...We will take legal recourse. We will also go to the people...How will democracy survive in this country? It is a clear sign of dictatorship," he told a press conference also attended by Treasurer Ajay Maken and General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh.

Asking whether the BJP has ever paid income tax or were penalised, Maken said the Modi government has "looted" about Rs 65.89 crore from its accounts through the I-T Department. He said the attempt is to ensure that the Congress is not able to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

"Do we have democracy in our country? Is it a level playing field?" he asked adding that they had filed the tax returns on February 2, 2019 but the proceedings of taking out money took place five years after.

"Unlike the BJP, this is the money contributed by the workers of the Congress, the membership fees of the Indian Youth Congress and the students from the NSU(I). On February 20, the I-T officials were going from one branch to the other of various banks having the account of Congress, Youth Congress and NSU(I). The I-T Department threatened the bank officials to transfer the funds in our name to the government," he alleged.

Last week, Congress said that its nine bank accounts were frozen by the I-T Department on February 14 on “flimsy grounds” after raising a tax notice of Rs 210 crore related to 2018-19. On a petition filed by the Congress, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) on Friday allowed the party to operate the account but after maintaining Rs 115 crore in its accounts. Congress said its accounts do not have that much money.

Maken said that the I-T Department has raised the tax notice on the ground of a delay of 40-45 days in submitting returns for 2018-19 and Rs 14.40 lakh contributed by MPs and MLAs in cash in that fiscal. In 2018-19, he said, the total receipts of Congress was around Rs 199 crore.

Ramesh said the I-T Department's actions show that the BJP government is rattled by Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, the farmers' movement and rising inflation.

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(Published 22 February 2024, 08:04 IST)

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