Congress: Party served with tax notice for 1994-95, 30 years later; BJP looting poll funds

BJP forcibly withdrew Rs 115 crores and 11 accounts of the party are freezed

By Kaniza Garari  Published on  21 March 2024 8:29 AM GMT
Congress: Party served with tax notice for 1994-95, 30 years later; BJP looting poll funds

New Delhi: The Congress party said that it has been served an income tax notice for the Assessment Year 1994-95, which was 30 years ago. Sitaram Kesari was the party’s treasurer at that time.

“We are being asked calculate penal charges for the FY 1994-95 after 30 years of the assessment,” the Congress party said and added that 11 accounts of the party have been frozen three weeks before elections.

“The BJP has looted the donations given to the Congress party by the public by freezing our accounts and forcibly withdrawing Rs 115.32 crores from them,” the party alleged.

In a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and, after a long time, Sonia Gandhi addressed the media about the freezing of Congress party accounts.

‘Political parties exempt from tax’

The Congress party says that the BJP has forcibly withdrawn Rs 115.32 crores from their accounts as an ‘income tax penalty.’

Ajay Maken, treasurer All India Congress Committee said, “When the bank officials refused to give the demand draft, they were threatened by the income tax department officials. Why? Political parties are exempted but in the case of the Congress party, the Bharatiya Janata Party is using all its force so that there is no free and fair election?”

Political parties are exempted from the purview of income tax, the Congress said.

Ajay Maken said, “Modi government knows that the political parties are exempt and we will go to court to get relief. But by that time, the Lok Sabha elections will be over. It is time to campaign and the BJP is trying to cripple the Opposition parties.”

“Has BJP or any other political party ever paid income tax? Why did the Modi government wait to serve the notice to us and do it only before the elections?” Maken asked.

Penalty notice

For a notice for FY 2017-18 notice, Rs 210 crores was marked in 11 accounts in four banks of the Congress party. The reason given is that Rs 14.49 lakhs were received in cash (as donations made by our MPs to the Congress party), out of a total receipt of Rs 199 crores. This cash component is just 0.07 per cent of the total donations. “But the punishment was 106%!” remarked Maken.

The Congress party received Rs 199 crores in donations in 2017-18 but after seven years, on February 13, 2024, Rs 210.25 crores was marked, the bank accounts were sealed and Rs 115.32 crores was forcibly confiscated, said Maken.

What is the impact of frozen deposits?

The Congress party is not being allowed to use Rs 285 crores of deposits in the bank that was meant for party purposes.

This means that the party can’t book slots in the media for publicity, and can’t print posters and pamphlets about their manifesto or promises and other election-related promotional content. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “We are not able to support our candidates or our party workers.”

Congress can’t access their 11% share of electoral bonds

The Indian National Congress party said that their share of 11 per cent of the total electoral bonds cannot be utilized as it is frozen. “While the BJP got more than 50 per cent in electoral bonds and they can utilise the same funds,” said Kharge.

A rare appearance

The party left no stone unturned to prove the seriousness of them being locked out of their funds. This was seen in a rare appearance made by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi after a long time in the press conference.

“A systematic effort is underway to cripple the Congress party financially. We are trying our best to fight elections in the most challenging circumstances,” she said.

“On one hand, the electoral bonds have benefitted the BJP hugely. On the other, the finances of the principal opposition party have come under a deliberate assault. This is truly unprecedented,” she added.

No one is objecting to BJP’s actions, says Rahul

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “This is a criminal action against the Congress party by prime minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah. No institution in the country has objected to their actions even when 20 per cent of India votes for the Congress party. We are the biggest Opposition party but no government institution is taking our side, including the Election Commission of India. Is there any democracy left in India?

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