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Congress Bank Accounts ‘Unfrozen’ After I-T Action Claim; Leaders Criticize…

On Friday, Congressman Vivek Tankha said that following the party’s filing of an appeal, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has lifted the block on the party’s bank accounts. The explanation came shortly after the Congress said that Income Tax officials had seized its primary financial accounts, halting any political activities.

Vivek Tankha, who came before the tribunal to challenge the ruling, stated that the Congress was now free to operate its bank accounts. The panel will hear the dispute next Wednesday before making a final ruling. Vivek Tankha stated that he informed the tribunal that the Congress would be unable to participate in the “festival of elections” if its finances were blocked.

Vivek Tankha’s statement comes after Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said the I-T department had frozen the Congress’ main bank accounts on “flimsy grounds” and this affected all political activity of the party barely two weeks before general elections were announced.

The accounts, including that of the Indian Youth Congress, were frozen on an Income Tax demand of ₹210 crore for 2018-19, an election year, Ajay Maken said at a press conference.

Ajay Maken said the party filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a few days late and that is why this action. He added that the I-T authorities’ orders freezing the accounts had come on Wednesday. Ajay Maken said four main bank accounts were frozen. News agency PTI later put the number at nine.

According to Ajay Maken, the Congress was unable to use even the funds received under its crowdfunding scheme. He alleged that democracy was “in danger in the country”.

“For the first time in the country’s history, accounts of the principal opposition party have been frozen by the tax authorities on flimsy grounds, barely two weeks before the announcement of general elections,” Ajay Maken told reporters.

Reacting to the development Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post on X, “Power drunk Modi Government has frozen the accounts of the country’s largest Opposition party – the Indian National Congress – just before the Lok Sabha elections.”

“This is a deep assault on India’s Democracy,” he added.

The unconstitutional money collected by the BJP would be utilised by them for elections, but the money collected by the Congress through crowdfunding shall be sealed, the party president said.

“That is why, I have said that there won’t be any elections in the future. We appeal to the Judiciary to save the multi-party system in this country and protect India’s Democracy,” the Congress president said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described it as “shocking & utterly shameful”..

Sachin Pilot said the freezing of Congress’s bank accounts “is a clear misuse of power”.

“The Congress party has always upheld its governing principles and maintained transparency in the money raised through various channels and campaigns. Never in the history of political discourse has such a blatant act of political vendetta been unleashed on other opposition party. It is the BJP which has hoarded 90% of money raised through electoral bonds, which was declared unconstitutional by the Hon’ble Supreme Court yesterday. The timing of all these actions is questionable and the motive is clearly deliberate. The BJP has left no stone unturned to stifle opposition voices and has set a dangerous precedent for targeting opponents and undermining democratic processes,” Sachin Pilot wrote on X (formally Twitter).

On Thursday, the Supreme Court scrapped the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme of anonymous political funding, calling it “unconstitutional” and ordering disclosure of the bond’s donors, amount and recipients by March 13.

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Source: HT

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