Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Black money routed to BJP’s accounts through electoral bonds, says Cong

- OUR CORRESPOND­ENT

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Sunday charged the government with engaging in “quid pro quo” for receiving electoral bonds and “conspiring” to route black money into the BJP’s accounts through the scheme.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were answerable on the electoral bond “scam”.

He also accused the ruling party of indulging in “tax terrorism” and “surgical strikes” on the Congress after its accounts were frozen by the Income Tax authoritie­s ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The opposition party also hoped the Election Commission would maintain “total impartiali­ty and neutrality” during polls and would live up to its constituti­onal duties as expected by the people from it.

Addressing a press conference, Ramesh alleged that the electoral bonds scheme introduced in 2018 was the “biggest

» Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were answerable on the electoral bond ‘scam’

» He also accused the ruling party of indulging in ‘tax terrorism’ and ‘surgical

extortion racket” ever run by the government, after it was revealed that the BJP garnered around Rs 6,800 crore through electoral bonds while the Congress received over Rs 1300 crore worth of bonds.

Ramesh claimed that 19 companies that were marked ‘high risk’ by the Ministry of Finance for violating rules under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2018 have collective­ly purchased electoral bonds for a whopping Rs 2,717 crore.

“As many as 18 of these 19 companies that had bought elecstrike­s’ on the Congress after its accounts were frozen by the Income Tax authoritie­s ahead of the Lok Sabha elections toral bonds did not appear in the subsequent annual lists of ‘high risk’ companies. Were they removed from the list because of their contributi­on to the ruling party’s coffers,” he asked.

Dismissing the Home Minister’s contention that the Congress also got donations, he pointed out that the CBI, ED or the Income Tax were not under the control of the Congress and nor did it have the authority to award big contracts like those of ports, highways and power projects. “The prime minister promised to deposit 15 lakhs in each Indian’s account by recovering black money from overseas. It appears the Prime Minister has conspired to route all the black money into the BJP’s accounts instead,” Ramesh said in a post on X.

He alleged big companies were made to pay hefty donations to the BJP to get big contracts later, while several companies were “forced” to pay up after probe agencies like the ED, the Income Tax and the CBI were let loose on them.

He cited the example of Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharmaceut­icals, claiming it faced an ED probe after which it purchased the electoral bonds.

Ramesh claimed several shell companies have purchased electoral bonds worth much more than their net worth.

“Since 2018, at least 43 companies that were newly incorporat­ed, in 2018 or later, bought electoral bonds within months of their incorporat­ion.

“Their ‘donations’ amounted to a total of 384.5 crore. Most of these are likely shell corporatio­ns, set up with the sole purpose of making electoral bond donations, or other such underhand dealings,” he alleged on X.

Ramesh said they will move the Supreme Court soon against the party’s accounts being frozen by the Income Tax department and expressed the hope of getting relief.

“We have been rendered financiall­y inoperativ­e. This is nothing but tax terrorism or surgical strikes against the Congress,” he alleged.

Ramesh also expressed the hope that on complaints of “model code violations by the prime minister and other senior ministers”, the Election Commission would remain neutral and act with the “same alacrity” as it does while dealing with complaints against the Congress. On the long election schedule, the Congress leader said that it appears to have been done to “facilitate the prime minister to campaign everywhere”. Ramesh also renewed the demand by the Congress and other parties for 100 per cent counting of VVPAT slips to ensure that doubts of the electorate are cleared.

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