The Income Tax department dealt a body blow to the reputation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by attaching assets allegedly amassed illegally by Satyendar Jain, a senior minister in the Delhi government.
The assets attached under the Benami Act include more than 100 bighas of land with investment value of Rs 17 crore and shares amounting to Rs 16 crore.
Jain, who holds the portfolios of industry, power, health and public works department in Delhi’s AAP government, denied the allegations.
“…my name has been wrongly dragged to create a false impression against me,” Jain said in a statement.
But if the allegations are substantiated, it will be a major setback to AAP and the government headed by Arvind Kejriwal. The central claim, which powered the party so dramatically to power in Delhi two years ago, was built on anti-corruption. Coming just ahead of the municipal elections in Delhi, the revelations could potentially impact AAP’s prospects in the electoral contest.
The AAP also denied all charges.
“There has been no order that has been received by Satyendar Jain on this issue. He was an architect by profession before he joined politics. He was a member of the board of the companies but he quit six months before he was given a ticket by the AAP in 2013,” said a senior party leader, who did not wish to be named.
The provisional attachment orders, dated February 27, were issued under the Benami Prohibition transactions act 1988 by the initiating officer of the National capital territory of Delhi to Indo Metalimpex Pvt Ltd, Akinchan Developers Pvt Ltd, Paryas Infosolutions and Mangalaytan Projects Pvt Ltd under the act.
The order said that cash consideration for making illegal entries in Indo Metalimpex Pvt Ltd and Akinchan Developers Pvt Ltd was provided by Jain. The money received from the accommodation entries in the form of share capital/premium was used to purchase the properties, the order added.
Jain said in his statement that he had not been associated since July 31, 2013 with any of the companies. “I have earned all my income with my hard work and I have been a tax payer for decades. I am not afraid of any probe about my income details, nor am I scared of any political vendetta, but I reserve the right for appropriate legal action in case my name is unnecessarily dragged into a controversy.”
The AAP has, in the past, claimed a witch-hunt by a ‘hostile’ union government led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a political rival. Since 2015, more than ten MLAs of the Delhi assembly have been arrested in various cases.
This is not the first time Jain has come under the scanner. According to the Press Trust of India, in September, the income tax department issued summons Jain and asked him to appear in connection with a tax evasion probe against certain Kolkata-based firms.