Modi govt indulging in 'financial terrorism' to cripple principal oppn party before polls: Cong

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 22-02-2024 19:00 IST | Created: 22-02-2024 19:00 IST
Modi govt indulging in 'financial terrorism' to cripple principal oppn party before polls: Cong
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The Congress on Thursday accused the Centre of indulging in ''tax terrorism'' against it and alleged that the government ''looted'' over Rs 65 crore from its accounts to financially cripple the principal opposition party ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress also alleged that the BJP was attempting to ''murder democracy'' and drag the country to a ''dictatorship raj''.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters along with K C Venugopal and Ajay Maken, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said ''tax terrorism attacks'' were being carried out against the party.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post on X, ''An autocratic Modi Government is capturing democracy through extortion and financial terrorism.'' He alleged that the Modi government ''hoodwinked'' nationalised banks to transfer Rs 65 crore of the donation received by the Congress and seized it through Income Tax. ''Has the BJP ever paid Income Tax? Looting Opposition and 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,'' Kharge said.

''A conspiracy is being hatched to make the Congress financially crippled. This is an attempt to murder democracy,'' Ramesh alleged, adding that this is politics of vendetta.

He also said that the action shows that the BJP government is rattled by the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, the farmers' movement and rising inflation.

He said demonetisation was done just before the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, because the Modi government wanted that parties should not be able to contest elections. Similarly, before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, opposition parties have been 'attacked', he added.

Maken said the BJP-led Centre had ''looted'' about Rs 65 crore from its accounts through the Income tax department. He said this is an attempt by the government to cripple the Congress party financially ahead of the Lok Sabha elections so that it is not able to fight polls.

The BJP government has started ''financial terrorism'' against the principal opposition party, he alleged.

There are five accounts from which this money has been withdrawn, he claimed.

Congress general secretary, organisation, Venugopal, said this action amounts to ''attack on democratic principles and values''.

''They (government) are trying to shut the voice of the Opposition. This type of low-level attack has never happened in history.We will fight it out,'' he said, adding that they will go to masses and xpose the government's actions.

''Clearly this is an example of dictatorship. The BJP is dragging the largest democracy in the world to a 'dictatorship raj','' Venugopal charged.

''This is clearly financial terrorism imposed by the BJP government on the Congress party. According to the latest information from the banks, the BJP government compelled the banks to transfer approximately Rs 65.89 crore from our deposits to the government,'' he said.

''What does it mean just before the parliamentary elections? They are essentially stealing our money from the bank,'' Venugopal asked.

Maken also asked whether the BJP has ever paid Income Tax.''Do we have democracy in our country?'' he said.

He said the Congress received a total of Rs 142.83 crore in 2018-19, of which oly Rs 14.49 lakh was given as cash by ex-MLAs, ex-MPs and others from their monthly salaries as donation to the party.

''We filed our return on 2nd February, 2019, the proceedings of taking out our money took place five years after, just two weeks before the elections are to be announced,'' he said. However, a penalty of Rs 210 crore (Rs 135 crore and Rs 75 crore in two separate notices) has been imposed for this delay and for the cash donations received from party MLAs and MPs, he said, asking why the tax authorities were sleeping for the last five years and why this action has come ahead of polls.

''How will we campaign, do our publicity and how will a level playing field be maintained. We are sure to get this money back from court. Our money should be returned and only then would democracy survive in the country,'' Maken said, adding that ''This is the biggest example of economic and political injustice.'' He said people donate money to political parties so that their voice gets strengthened, but the voice of public was being strangled today. ''We are collecting money from people to keep democracy alive. BJP has never paid I-T then why is income tax charged from the Congress.'' The turn of events started suddenly when, on February 14 the IT Department issued a notice to four bankers of 11 branches of AICC, Youth Congress and NSUI. The Income tax department has made a demand of more than Rs 210 crore, the party said.

Since no bank had such amounts in our accounts, our accounts were virtually frozen and thus inoperable, it said in a statement.

''We approached the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, requesting it to grant a stay; the IT officials clarified before the Tribunal that it was an exercise to 'mark the lien'; thus, the account was not frozen,'' the party said.

''But brazenly, the IT Department went a step ahead and transferred our funds to the government accounts,'' it alleged.

Indian Youth Congress chief B V Srinivas alleged, ''This is a 'pocket-maar sarkar' and a 'tanashahi sarkar', as this is the first time such a thing is happening in India's democracy.''

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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