A united opposition Wednesday launched into the government in both the Houses of Parliament, accusing it of failing to fulfil its poll promise of bringing back all the black money stashed abroad within 100 days of coming to power.
Braving the opposition onslaught , finance minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that 427 people on a list of 627 names provided by HSBC, Geneva had been identified and of them, 250 had admitted to having overseas accounts. Almost the entire opposition, however, walked out, saying they were “disappointed” with the reply.
Tackling black money was part of the BJP’s manifesto for the summer’s Lok Sabha election that saw it being voted to power six months ago. The government has already submitted to the Supreme Court, which is hearing a matter on black money, the HSBC list.
“The country was misled and a perception was created. They said Rs 15 lakh will come to every one’s account. Now, the government has taken a 360 degree turn,” deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said, initiating the debate.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sharma said, “In all his election rallies, the Prime Minister said Rs 85 lakh crore was in banks abroad. Now, the Prime Minister says he does not know how much black money is there.”
Though there are no official figures of the illicit money, unofficial estimates range from $460 billion to more than $1.4 trillion.
“You should apologise to the nation and say that you had made a false promise,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said the government had no intention of bringing back black money. The government should instead concentrate on recovery of non-performing assets of banks and create employment, senior Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said.
Terming the participatory notes as biggest source of black money, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury demanded a ban on them.
To repeated demands for making public the names of all account holders, Jaitley said the issue was not if names should be disclosed but “how and when to disclose them”. “We have to disclose the names in a very prudent and thoughtful manner,” he said.
The government, he said, was engaging with other countries to widen the scope of operations against black money beyond the stage of cooperation on monies related to drugs and crime to tax-evaded money.