BJP Asks Cong to Clarify on Swamy's Charges

BJP Asks Cong to Clarify on Swamy's Charges

BJP today asked Congress to clarify whether it paid Rs 90 Crore to Associated Journals, which ran the now-defunct National Herald daily, saying if it was true it was violation of tax and electoral laws.

Raising questions on the basis of details provided by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy yesterday, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters that if it was true that such a transfer had taken place then it could lead to various consequences for the Congress party, including withdrawal of tax exemption.

Jaitley said he merely wanted a specific answer from the party and not adjectives like baseless and untrue as was used in a communication issued by Rahul Gandhi's office to Swamy threatening defamation case against him.

He said if the Congress party were to say that what Swamy has alleged was wrong then the matter ends. If not, then the whole issue is one of "gross impropriety and gross illegality".

The former Law Minister maintained that a political party can use its funds only for political purposes and not any business or financial activity.

Swamy had alleged that All India Congress Committee (AICC) had given Rs 90 Crore to Associated Journals Private Limited, publisher of National Herald and Quami Awaz, which was allegedly written off by a new company Young Indian, a Section 25 Company in which Rahul and Sonia Gandhi own 38 per cent shares each.

"As Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi made an amendment to the Representation of the People Act and later the Election Commission also issued detailed guidelines which serve as a code of conduct for the political parties.

"Article 8 of the EC guidelines says all political parties will use their financial resources only for political purposes," Jaitley said, adding that this is the basis on which both the donors and the political parties enjoy income tax exemption.

"If these charges are true, then it is a gross violation of law, of the Income Tax Act and the Representation of the People Act," Jaitley said.

He insisted that if the money was transferred to a commercial entity then it is a breach of the condition for registration of a political party. If the funds were diverted in this manner then the tax exemption given to Congress should go, he added.

BJP also maintained that this would be the first case of this kind where a political party had given funds to a company. "You cannot collect money on the strength of being a political party and then give it to a commercial entity... There will be tax consequences. If there was misuse then the CBDT should intervene and the tax exemption should go," Jaitley said.

He also claimed that it would further entail penalties on the political party.

Elaborating on other details of the law, he said this has been in force since 2002. It states that for all donations above Rs 20,000 to a political party, the details of the donor have to be revealed.

Meanwhile, the BJP leader accused the UPA government of pushing through anti-people policies in the name of reforms.

Jaitley said that hike in price of LPG and capping of subsidised LPG cylinders, hike in prices of diesel and FDI in retail would hit the common man, and Congress would have to pay a political price for its policies in Assembly polls in Himachal.

He urged people to root out Congress which is pursuing anti-people policies.

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