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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Have received fresh I-T notices of over Rs 1,800 crore, BJP indulging in tax terrorism: Congress

Adressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters along with Cong general secretary Jairam Ramesh, party treasurer Ajay Maken alleged that the BJP is in serious violation of I-T laws and said the I-T department should raise a demand of more than Rs 4,600 crore from the saffron party for such violations

PTI New Delhi Published 29.03.24, 01:25 PM
Sonia Gandhi with Mallikarjun Kharge

Sonia Gandhi with Mallikarjun Kharge File

The Congress on Friday said it has received fresh notices from the income-tax department, asking it to pay Rs 1,823.08 crore, and alleged that the BJP is in "serious violation" of income-tax laws for which authorities should raise a demand of more than Rs 4,600 crore from the saffron party.

The Congress also accused the ruling BJP of indulging in "tax terrorism" to financially cripple the opposition party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

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Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here along with Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, party treasurer Ajay Maken alleged that the BJP is in serious violation of income-tax laws and said the I-T department should raise a demand of Rs 4,617.58 crore from the saffron party for such violations.

Maken said political parties have to fill up a proforma of Form 24A, in which two basic and important pieces of information have to be furnished -- the names and addresses of their donors.

"We have analysed all the submissions of the BJP to the Election Commission (EC). The party has faltered every year," Maken claimed.

Ramesh alleged that through the "electoral bonds scam", the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has collected Rs 8,200 crore and used the route of "pre-paid, post-paid, post-raid bribes and shell companies".

On the other hand, the BJP is engaged in "tax terrorism", he alleged.

"Efforts are being made to financially cripple the Congress, but we are not going to be cowed down," Ramesh said.

He asserted that the Congress's campaign for the upcoming parliamentary polls will continue and the party will take its guarantees to the people of the country.

"We will not be scared of these notices. We will be more aggressive and fight these polls," the former Union minister said.

Maken alleged that the Congress and other like-minded opposition parties are being selectively targeted by the I-T department, which he described as the BJP's "frontal organisation".

He said the Supreme Court will soon hear the Congress's plea on the I-T department's demands from it.

"An illegal attempt to freeze the bank accounts of the principal opposition party in February has gone on for more than a month on the eve of the general election," Maken said.

Before the dust could settle on that unprecedented "vindictive" action, in a patently "illegal and undemocratic" move, the "frontal organisation of the BJP" has launched its next "premeditated" and "diabolical" campaign against the Congress, he added.

The income-tax returns filed by the Congress for eight years have been reopened on "baseless and manufactured" grounds to levy illegal I-T demand orders totalling thousands of crores of rupees, Maken said.

The timing of the I-T department's action -- in February and March, days before and even days after the Lok Sabha polls were announced on March 16 -- speaks for itself about the mala-fide nature of these actions, the Congress leader said.

Maken alleged that the "BJP-ruled I-T department" has so far forcibly taken out Rs 135 crore from the Congress's bank accounts due to an alleged Rs 14 lakh non-compliance demand against the party.

"This amount was recovered by freezing more than Rs 270 crore of the Congress's bank balance across several accounts," he said.

During this period of several weeks, the bank accounts of the Congress were effectively "frozen" in an illegal attempt to paralyse the party's functioning during the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Maken alleged.

"This action was designed to choke the Congress financially and prevent, stop, delay and disable any election-related expenditure by the party on advertisements, travel, salaries, agencies etc.

"It is indeed appalling that the financial years assessed go back to 1993-94, when the late Sitaram Kesri was the party's treasurer. Out of the eight years, the I-T demand orders for four years have been issued by the BJP's frontal organisation even without assessment orders. This is unprecedented in the history of taxation in India," he said.

"These orders are based on manufactured and planted diaries and so-called raids by the BJP's frontal organisation on third parties. Several of these raided third parties enjoy stay orders from courts based on vitiated search procedures by the I-T department," Maken claimed, adding that the same interim relief is not being granted to the Congress.

In the history of India, why is the Congress, a tax-exempt political party like others, being "forced" to pay income tax during the 2024 Lok Sabha election, he asked.

"Why have the BJP or its alliance partners not been dealt with similarly? Why has the I-T department not taken cognisance of the Yediyurappa diaries, Jain diaries, Sahara diaries, Birla diaries, Bangaru Lakshman convictions and penalised the BJP?" he asked.

"Why is the EC -- the guarantor of free-and-fair elections -- a mute spectator? Is this not an obvious, brazen, blatant and shameful attempt by the BJP to illegally financially cripple the opposition? Where is the level-playing field in Indian elections? Can 2024 be called a free-and-fair election anymore?" Maken asked.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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