West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal questioned on Saturday the government’s decision to give income tax exemption on deposits by political parties in demonetised notes.
Banerjee said the timing of the announcement showed there may be “an ulterior motive”.
Her statement came a day after revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said political parties depositing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their accounts would be exempt from income tax, provided the donations were below Rs 20,000 per individual and properly documented.
“They need to clarify that #DeMonetisation means it is #DeMonetisation for all. Same rules for everyone. If 500/1000 are illegal tender, then how are they trying to show that there is a division btwn common people & political parties?” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.
“Even the timing of these statements show that there may be an ulterior motive. Is there a motive? Are they trying to give a hidden message to cadre of one political party? Why these confusing and misleading statements now? They must clarify,” she said.
Delhi chief minister Kejriwal demanded a commission to probe the source of funding of political parties.
He sought to link the Centre’s tax exemption decision to the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, suggesting the announcement was the outcome of the parleys between the two.
“Common people are being investigated if they deposit Rs 2.5 lakh individually. But if political parties are not going to be investigated even if they deposit Rs 2,500 crore following the decision, then it is wrong.
“We demand setting up of an independent commission to probe into bank accounts details of political parties over the past five years, to investigate into their sources of funding,” Kejriwal said at a press conference.
He also asked the Centre to make public details of money deposited by all political parties post-demonetisation and sought removal of the “less than Rs 20,000 donation cap” for tax exemption, saying “each paisa the parties receive should be declared”.
“The income tax returns filed by AAP right from its formation until now are being enquired into. We are presenting each of the receipts and vouchers to the income tax department. We are not scared, what other parties, BJP, are scared of? Why they too should not be probed?” he asked
At a press conference on Friday, Adhia said the government is not tinkering with the tax exemption available to political parties and they are free to deposit old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in their bank accounts. But these deposits will be subject to the condition that individual donations taken in cash do not exceed Rs 20,000 and are properly documented with full identity of the donor.
“If it is a deposit in the account of a political party, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in individual’s account then that information will come into our radar. If the individual is putting money in his own account, then we will get information,” he had said.
Kejriwal and Banerjee had last month addressed a rally against the government’s demonetisation move. After the protest, the BJP slammed the two leaders for their campaign, saying they were hurt by the Narendra Modi-led government’s decision.
On Saturday, Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee said: “It is most unfortunate how there are confusing and misleading statements coming from senior govt officials,” said the West Bengal CM, who has been vociferous in her opposition to the Centre’s demonetisation move.