The income tax department has summoned former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati’s brother and his wife, a move viewed by political commentators as an attempt by the BJP-led Centre to corner the BSP ahead of crucial state elections.
The BSP chief’s brother, Anand Kumar, and his wife Vichiter Lata were asked to appear before taxmen on January 31.
The summons were regarding a high-value property in upscale Bengali Market of New Delhi, two more in Noida, and investments in companies promoted by the couple.
They have been asked to show an array of documents such as complete names and addresses of the companies in which they are directors, shareholders, and trustees since April 1, 2010.
Besides, the three-page notice mentioned 17 companies in which the couple has stakes, and sought details of their financial dealings.
Before the February-March elections were announced, Kumar’s meteoric business growth has been a subject of allegations and counter-accusations. He is a director in 42 companies, according the registrar of companies.
His flagship company, Hotel Library Club Pvt Ltd, has a paid-up capital of Rs 2.4 lakh but holds assets worth Rs 287 crore, the registrar’s record reveals.
The tax department cleared Mayawati and her family in 2010, when these companies came under scrutiny. The taxman’s move now to ask for details since 2010 has raised questions.
“This is totally motivated to intimidate your political opponent and put them on the back foot,” said Asmer Beg, a political commentator associated with Lokniti.
BSP supremo Mayawati is among the contenders in a three-cornered fight for power in UP, with the BJP and an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress making up the other two camps.
For the BJP, a favorable election outcome in the Uttar Pradesh which gave 73 out of 80 in seats in lok sabha is a must, as it is widely seen as a referendum on the demonetization scheme announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
BSP spokesperson Ambeth Rajan and senior leader Satish Misra did not respond to calls and text messages for comments. Neither did Kumar.
The BJP distanced itself from the controversy.
“I don’t wish to offer any political comment on a job being done by agencies as part of their mandate. No party should bring in politics into it. You must address the question being asked on merit and offer explanation rather than trying to turn them into a political football,” party spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said.