DC Edit | Unfreeze all Congress accounts

The country woke up with shock to learn that pending an income tax department demand against the principal Opposition party, the Congress, for an amount of Rs 210 crores, four of its bank accounts, including that of the Youth Congress, were frozen by the authorities. The IT department served its order on freezing accounts two days ago, as per information shared by the Congress Party.

Understandably, it has impacted the political activity of the Congress at a crucial time ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in a few months’ time, and gives an impression that the alacrity of action given the overall details of the case shows political motivation, at least in perception, which is best avoided by the ruling party and the government.

On the facts of the matter, it seems like a routine tax issue. The Congress Party filed its IT for the financial year 2018-19, which was also an election year, a few days late, and skipped the deadline. The returns also reportedly had a discrepancy in cash receipts to the tune of Rs 14.4 lakhs, given to the party by its own MLAs and MPs as donations, made from their salaries.

The income tax tribunal froze its accounts, imposing a lien on Rs 115 crores, but in the process, the accounts, which also have banked money drawn from nationwide crowdfunding schemes as part of raising funds, are also frozen and unavailable.

Congress leader and party treasurer Ajay Maken who spoke on the issue of income tax authorities freezing its party accounts, later on clarified that the tribunal has put a lien of Rs 115 crores on its accounts, and the party has now been allowed to spend over and above that.

Several senior party leaders, including president Mallikarjun Kharge and MP Rahul Gandhi, expressed their outrage on the issue, and alleged that the move of the BJP government was an “attack on democracy”. Terming the government “power drunk” for freezing its accounts just before Lok Sabha elections, Mr Kharge said it was a “deep assault” on democracy.

The IT department must unfreeze the accounts and let regular protocol prevail in matters purely civil and procedural in nature, especially when the issue concerns a political party.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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