Congress claims bank accounts frozen: 'No money to pay bills, salaries' | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Congress claims bank accounts frozen: 'No money to pay electricity bill, salaries'

Feb 16, 2024 01:02 PM IST

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said freezing the bank accounts just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections is an assault on Indian democracy.

The Congress party on Friday alleged that four of its main bank accounts have been frozen by the Income Tax department on “flimsy grounds”.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi at AICC headquarters in New Delhi.(ANI)
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi at AICC headquarters in New Delhi.(ANI)

The accounts, including that of the Indian Youth Congress, were frozen on an Income Tax demand of 210 crore for 2018-19, an election year, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said.

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Maken added that Congress had filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a “few days late” and that is why this action, according to PTI.

“Democracy has completely ended in India. All the accounts of the country's main opposition party have been frozen,” Maken said in a press conference.

Maken said that the party was informed on Thursday that banks are not honouring the cheques issued by the party.

“On further investigation, we got to know that the Youth Congress bank accounts have been frozen. The accounts of the Congress party have also been seized,” Maken said, according to ANI. "Income tax asked for 210 crore recovery from Youth Congress and Congress party. The crowdfunding money in our accounts has been frozen. Just 2 weeks before elections when the opposition's accounts are frozen, it is equivalent to freezing the democracy..."

Maken added that the party at present lacks funds to spend, settle bills, or pay salaries to its employees.

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"Right now we don't have any money to spend, to pay electricity bills, to pay salaries to our employees. Everything will be impacted, not only Nyay Yatra but all political activities will be impacted..." he said.

However, an hour after Maken's press conference, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha said that the party approached the Income Tax Appellate Authority (ITAT) over the issue, which granted interim relief.

“Very graciously, the ITAT...said that there will be only a lien on the bank account. There are no restrictions. The party can operate its accounts,” he said in a video message.

He added that the tribunal will hear the case next on Wednesday.

Deep assault on Indian democracy: Mallikarjun Kharge

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that the move to freeze the accounts of the country’s largest Opposition party just before the Lok Sabha elections is a deep assault on Indian democracy.

“Power drunk Modi govt has frozen the accounts of the country’s largest Opposition party - the Indian National Congress - just before the Lok Sabha elections,” Kharge wrote on X. “This is a deep assault on India's Democracy!”

Kharge alleged that the “unconstitutional” money collected by the BJP would be utilised by them for elections, but the money collected by the Congress through crowdfunding has been seized.

“That is why, I have said that there won't be any elections in the future. We appeal to the Judiciary to save the multi-party system in this country and protect India's Democracy,” he said.

Kharge added: We will take to the streets and fight strongly against this autocracy!

Congress not about money, but people: Rahul Gandhi

Reacting to the development, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the Narendra Modi government of being behind the IT department's action.

“Don't be afraid Modi ji, Congress is not about the power of money but of people. We have never bowed down before dictatorship, nor will we ever bow down. Every Congress worker will fight tooth and nail to protect India's democracy,” he wrote on X.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also termed the move by the Income Tax department as “shocking” and “utterly shameful”.

“This is shocking & utterly shameful — coming from the “Mother of Democracy”!" he wrote on X.

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