The income tax department will investigate the source of the currency notes used for making the garland presented to UP Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati at the party’s 25th birth anniversary rally on Monday.
Although PTI confirmed the news, the income tax department’s Lucknow office did not comment on the issue.
But on Tuesday, the central government refused in Parliament to accept the demand of members across party lines for a probe into the source of the money.
The issue stalled the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress members forcing three adjournments.
A close aide of Mayawati, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, said, “Party workers from the Lucknow zone had raised funds to gift the garland.” Terming the Lok Sabha pandemonium a natak (farce), he said each currency note in the garland was “hard earned by BSP workers”.
Although Siddiqui claimed that the garland was worth
Rs 21 lakh, Congress leader Digvijay Singh told Hindustan Times that the 10-metre long garland had 45 notes in each ring. As each centimetre comprised five rings — costing Rs 2.25 lakh — the garland should be worth Rs 22.50 crore.
Sources in the BSP said in Lucknow that the garland was made at Siddiqui’s residence and a person was specially assigned to carry it to the rally venue. But they refused to reveal where the garland had been kept after the rally.
In the Lok Sabha, the first protest came from Congress member Jagdambika Pal who said gifting the garland made of currency notes had violated the basic tenets of the Constitution. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav came out in support of Pal and wanted the government to find out the source of the money.
The BSP leaders in Lucknow pointed out that there was no need for an inquiry, as the garland was a gift from party workers. They claimed that the party had receipts for the donations and they would be furnished to the investigating agency, if required.