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  India   Politics  22 Mar 2024  Congress Targets PM for Freezing Its Bank Accounts

Congress Targets PM for Freezing Its Bank Accounts

Published : Mar 22, 2024, 1:13 am IST
Updated : Mar 22, 2024, 1:13 am IST

I-T action in 30-yr-old case during Kesri tenure

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Sonia Gandhi briefs the media, at AICC headquarters, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 21, 2024. (PTI Photo)
 Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Sonia Gandhi briefs the media, at AICC headquarters, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 21, 2024. (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI: The cash-strapped Congress has alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was orchestrating a deliberate campaign to financially bind the party. Senior leader Sonia Gandhi, speaking on the gravity of the situation, stated that it had not only impacted the Congress but also posed a threat to democracy in India.

The Congress was apparently not able to carry out election campaign as its funds are blocked.

In a rare press conference with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi said electoral bonds have, on one hand, benefited the BJP hugely, and on the other, the finances of the principal Opposition party are under “determined assault”. This is truly unprecedented, she said.

“We can do no campaign work... Our ability to fight elections has been damaged,” senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, launching a scathing attack on the government over the issue of freezing the party’s accounts due to an income-tax returns issue.

Terming the freezing of accounts a “criminal action” against the Congress by the Prime Minister and home minister Amit Shah, he said: “There is no democracy in India today and the idea that India is the world’s largest democracy is a complete lie.”

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said this was a 'dangerous game' being played by the BJP which would have far-reaching consequences and urged the courts to see that the rule of law is made applicable.

“The income-tax claim will ultimately be settled as per the decision of the court. Political parties do not pay tax. The BJP never paid it, even after this if we are being asked for it, then we will wait for the final decision of the court,” Kharge said.

“To save democracy, there should be a level playing field,” he said, adding that if constitutional institutions want a free and fair election our party should be allowed to operate our bank accounts freely.

“They do not want us to contest lection and want a one-sided election. Our frozen accounts should be released immediately and a level playing field should be ensured to save democracy and the Constitution,” Kharge said.

The leaders claimed Rs 210 crore has been marked as lien on their frozen accounts for a notice for 2017-18 for Rs 14.49 crore received in cash. The party has received another income-tax notice for its returns 30 years ago for 1994-95.

The Congress claimed the income-tax department has sent a notice to the Congress for a 30-year-old alleged financial mismanagement during the tenure of Sitaram Kesri as party treasurer. Questions were being raised not only about the three-decade-old issue but also the timing of the notice, which had been served just before the Lok Sabha polls.

The Delhi High Court earlier this month refused to interfere with the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal’s order declining to stay a notice issued by the income-tax department to the Congress for recovery of outstanding tax of more than Rs 100 crore.

The party had earlier said the I-T tribunal order freezing its funds was “an attack on democracy” as it had come just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.



Tags: indian national congress, sonia gandhi, mallikarjun kharge
Location: India, Delhi