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Congress accuses BJP government of 'financial terrorism', says banks forced to transfer Rs 66 cr from its accounts during 'lien'

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New Delhi | February 22, 2024 7:56:11 PM IST
Accusing the BJP-led government of being "autocratic" and trying to capture democracy through "extortion and financial terrorism", Congress on Thursday said that the banks were forced to transfer about Rs 65.89 crore from the party's bank deposits even as Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had put a lien.

Party leaders KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken and Jairam Ramesh held a joint press conference and said the government move was the biggest example of the "social and political injustice" taking place in the country.

Maken said the Modi government was rattled by the strictures from the Supreme Court over the electoral bonds scheme.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the Modi Government wants to steal the hard-earned money of people donated to the Congress.

In a post on X, he also alleged that the BJP government threatens corporate firms through ED, CBI, IT to grab the lion's share of donations and asked if the BJP has ever paid Income Tax.

"An autocratic Modi Govt is capturing Democracy through Extortion and Financial Terrorism! Modi Govt hoodwinked Nationalised Banks to transfer Rs65 Crore of the donation received by Congress and seized it through Income Tax. Has the BJP ever paid Income Tax? BJP received donations from at least 30 firms after it misused CBI, IT, ED to raid them," he said.

"Reports also show that some of these firms handed out a heftier amount to the BJP in the months following the searches. On one hand the Modi Govt wants to steal the hard earned money of people donated to the Congress party in good faith, and on the other hand it threatens corporate firms through ED, CBI, IT etc to grab lion's share of donations! Looting Opposition & Blackmailing donors to fill BJP's coffers is a dark phase for our Democracy! We shall fight this tooth and nail - Both in the court of law and in the court of the people!" he added.

KC Venugopal said at the press conference at the Congress headquarters that the party had received donations from its workers and people.

He said the Income Tax Department's action comes weeks before the announcement of the schedule of the general elections.

"As per the latest information from the banks, the BJP government forced the banks to transfer approximately Rs 65.89 crores from our deposits to the government. This amount is from AICC and Indian Youth Congress account and NSUI. Unlike the BJP, we got this money from ordinary workers of the party...Just before the parliament elections, the account of the principal opposition party has been hijacked by the BJP government," he said.

"They (BJP) are stealing our money from the banks...We also ruled this country. If any such instance BJP can point out that they had this type of experience during the Congress-led UPA government or Congress government. Whether BJP has given any income tax as a party. This is clearly an attack on democratic principles and values. And they're trying to shut the voice of India's opposition... This is clearly an example of dictatorship," he added.

Maken said that on February 20, officials from the Income Tax Department had gone to different banks where the Congress party has accounts and "forced the officials to transfer the party's money to the IT department". He alleged that the officers "were intimidated" and told that if they failed to transfer the money, it would be recovered from them.

Maken alleged that this was illegal since the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had put a lien on the Congress party bank accounts, which means that no transaction could be carried out. But, he pointed out, the IT authorities forced the banks to transfer the money while a lien was in force.

He said it was ridiculous that the IT department had imposed a penalty of Rs 210 crores, over a cash deposit of Rs 14.49 lakh, which was deposited by sitting and former Congress MPs and MLAs from their salaries.

The Congress treasurer said that all the political parties are exempted from income tax since the money they collect through donation or membership is not income but is used for party activities. He also asked the BJP whether it has ever paid any tax or penalty.

He alleged that the BJP had a definite design and even it knew that the Congress would get relief from the courts and the entire money had to be returned. However, he pointed out that legal processes take time while the elections are around the corner. He said by the time the legal process is completed, the elections will be over and the BJP's purpose will be served.

Maken said it was not just an attack on Congress to "cripple it economically and financially" ahead of the elections, but also an attack on the country's democracy.

Jairam Ramesh said this was the "same old trick of the BJP", pointing out that demonetisation was announced on November 8, 2016, just two months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections. He alleged that demonetisation was done to financially cripple the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress at that time.

"The Modi government is trying to cripple the Congress financially just before the elections as it had been panic-stricken by the success of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and also over the issues of unemployment and farmers' protest," he alleged. (ANI)

 
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