Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani on Wednesday asked the government to make public the names of over 780 Indians who have illegally stashed in foreign banks their wealth amounting to an estimated Rs 25 lakh crore.
The veteran BJP leader was speaking on his adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha "regarding the situation arising out of money deposited illegally in foreign banks and action taken against guilty persons".
"The names of 782 tax evaders are being kept a secret by the (United Progressive Alliance) UPA government," Advani said.
"I want your assurance and an oath after the debate that you will come out with the names of tax evaders. Convince the house, convince the nation that you will play all your cards to bring back the black money in foreign banks," Advani said in the house, addressing finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
"Indians have an amount of Rs 25 lakh crore black money in Swiss banks," the BJP leader claimed, citing a Global Financial Integrity report.
He said high tax in India has led to black money being kept in foreign banks and tax evasion is the reason behind it.
Advani said India has become a soft state because the government has failed to take any action against the culprits.
"We should recognise that because we haven't taken any action against the guilty, we are being seen as a soft state," he said.
The BJP leader, fresh from his 40-day nationwide journey for creating awareness on corruption and black money, said the adjournment motion highlighted the "failure of the government" even if the wording of the notice has been changed and made milder.
"It has to be the failure of the government. You have to accept it. It is the failure of the government."
"Even the Supreme Court has felt the government has not been as proactive on the matter as it should have been. We want the government to publish a white paper on black money at the earliest."
Questioning the government's delayed action on black money, Advani urged it to act fast and effectively.
"I would like to ask the finance minister to bring back this money that could be used for the development of over six lakh villages in India."
He also mentioned that he was being asked why the BJP did not take any action when it was in power. "The situation has changed. The situation was not like this then. There has been a change in the situation after the UN convention against corruption."
He said the world has realised the dangers of the black money, which they call "dirty money".
"The world realises that a major part of this dirty money is going as terror funds. This has led to the UN passing an international convention against corruption," Advani said.
He said stashing away money in foreign banks was part of corruption and asked the government why it was delaying action against the known culprits.
Congress' Manish Tewari, however, trashed the allegations and said the black money issue was not the creation of the UPA government.
He said the government has put in place a strategy to bring back the money from foreign banks and has signed agreements with major tax haven nations of the world for the purpose.
Earlier on the day, the Lok Sabha admitted an adjournment motion from LK Advani on illegal money being stashed away by rich Indians in foreign banks.
Speaker Meira Kumar admitted the motion "regarding the situation arising out of money deposited illegally in foreign banks and action taken against guilty persons".
The adjournment motion was taken up soon after the business papers for the day were tabled.
Advani kicked off the debate on the black money issue.