Black money disclosure: Will BJP gain politically?

PM Narendra Modi with BJP chief Amit Shah
New Delhi, Oct 27 The disclosure to the Supreme Court of names of three holders of illegal accounts abroad has predictably led to a political uproar, but the whole issue could well prove advantageous for the BJP.

The ruling party is claiming that the names of several Congress members figure in the list of those who have stashed away undeclared wealth overseas. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, in fact, stressed that the list of 800 names with the government includes many Congress members, but none from the BJP.

"The list of those with accounts in banks abroad has several Congress members. I must make it clear there are no names of BJP members in the list," Rao told IANS.

He said the move to reveal three names is just the beginning and more names would be revealed soon.

"This shows the government's commitment to bring back black money. This is the first step... the legal process will take its due course. Several more names will be revealed," Rao said.

"The process has begun to send notices to (illegal account holders to) prove the money in their accounts has legally earned. If they fail to prove it, it will be considered black money," said the spokesperson.

The affidavit the government filed in the Supreme Court says "several more cases are under process and names of persons prosecuted will become public in due course".

The opposition Congress, however, questioned the Narendra Modi government on the entire issue of bringing back the black money stashed in foreign banks.

"The BJP had loudly proclaimed that the account of every individual would be credited with Rs.15 lakh and the nation eagerly waits for Narendra Modi to fulfil his promise," said Ajay Maken, Congress media chief.

"It is a worrying development if the BJP is trying to avoid delivering on the promise. It was a major pillar of the party's campaign," he added.

Congress leader Salman Khurshid slammed the government for cherry picking names. "The government can disclose all the names on the list to the court as per law," said Khurshid.

Rao set aside the Congress' allegations, saying the party cannot complain as it never revealed any names while it was in power.

"Congress should not be complaining. They had the list for three years and they did not reveal a single name. The former finance minister P. Chidambaram then claimed that he had not seen the list," said Rao.

Political analysts say the government will tighten the noose around the Congress' neck.

"As the claims are made there is a former UPA minister in the list, it will be embarrassing for the Congress and advantageous for BJP," veteran journalist and political analyst Neerja Chowdhury told IANS.

"It was BJP's election promise, and they must reveal the whole list. The nation has a right to know," she said.

The BJP, in its manifesto for the general elections, had promised it would bring back the black money.

"BJP is committed to initiate the process of tracking down and bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks and offshore accounts. We will set up a Task Force for this purpose and to recommend amendments to existing laws or enact new laws," the manifesto said.

"The process of bringing back black money to India, what belongs to India, will be put in motion on priority. We will also proactively engage with foreign governments to facilitate information sharing on black money," it added.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week hinted that the name of a former minister of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in the list of those who have foreign bank accounts.

The Congress rubbished the claim and said: "Do not try to blackmail us."

The names revealed Monday following an affidavit in the Supreme Court are of Pradeep Burman, one of Dabur India promoters, bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhiya, and Goa-based mining company Timblo Private Limited and its five directors, including Radha Satish Timblo.

The government in its affidavit said it has no intention to hold back any information or the names it has received from the foreign governments of Indian citizens holding undisclosed accounts in foreign banks.

The government also said that soon after assuming the office it has set up the Special Investigation Team to probe the flight of black money to the tax havens as ordered by the apex court.


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