The Congress on Wednesday asked members of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) combine to declare that they have no illegal assets in India after in a similar declaration they pledged they had no illegal wealth in foreign banks.
Speaking on an adjournment motion moved by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani, Congress MP Manish Tewari lashed out at the opposition for "politicising" the issue of black money.
BJP MPs last week voluntarily gave a declaration in both houses that they do not have any illegal wealth stashed away abroad.
"I appreciate NDA (National Democratic Alliance) MPs giving an undertaking that they do not have black money in foreign banks. They should give a similar undertaking for banks in India as well," Tewari said, asking the opposition if it was differentiating between black money in India and abroad.
He refuted Advani's allegation that the government was delaying action on getting the black money back from global tax havens.
The government was taking action against those involved in evading tax, the Congress MP said.
"It is wrong to say that the black money problem has been created by the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. This is a legal issue," said Tewari.
He said the government shared the concern that the Indian black money deposited in international banks was huge.
"The NDA does not intend to bring black money back to India but to politicise black money. This is not a UPA versus NDA debate. We also want that the black money in foreign banks should come back to India. I request NDA not to dilute the issue of black money by politicising the matter."
"Tax havens make laws simple and guarantee confidentiality and secrecy," he said, replying to Advani's charge that the government was keeping 782 tax evaders' names secret.
He said nobody had any idea about the amount of the Indian black money deposited in foreign banks.
Tewari had a tiff with former finance minister Yashwant Sinha of the BJP when he alleged that the NDA during its rule diluted the provisions under the law on black money.
Sinha, who was not listed to speak, intervened and dismissed Tewari's allegation. "You can twist facts by ignoring facts, and that is what my friend Manish Tewari has done," the BJP leader said.