Accusing the NDA government of misleading the public on the issue of black money, Congress on Saturday rejected Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s charge that a treaty signed with Germany by the Congress government in 1995 has kept its hands tied on the issue.
Countering the accusation, AICC Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken said 14 DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement), having the same confidentiality clause, were signed during the earlier NDA regime of which three were amendments, but there was no effort made to revisit the issue.
“Why did you keep the confidentiality clause when you signed the agreements and now you are blaming the UPA for it? Why did the BJP government not think of removing confidentiality clause then?” Maken asked while casting doubts upon Jaitley’s claim that DTAA between India and Germany was signed on June 19, 1995 when Congress party was in power.
Showing a purported snapshot of Finance department’s website, he said that it shows that the said agreement was signed and notified in September and November, 1996 respectively when Congress was not in power.
He, however, parried reporters’ question on whether he meant to say that Jaitley was telling a lie.
“Maybe he has some other documents…But that is not the main thing. The main thing is that why did the BJP not think of removing that confidentiality clause when they signed so many agreements during their tenure rather than blaming the UPA.” he said.
The Narendra Modi government, which had promised to bring back black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, toed the line of UPA regime by informing the Supreme Court on Friday that it cannot disclose such details given by countries with which India has DTAA.
Later, Jaitley had blamed the Congress saying that it had entered into an agreement with Germany in 1995 which was a constraining factor in disclosing details of black money.
Dismissing the charge, Maken slammed the BJP over the issue and cited a number of statements made by its senior leaders, who are now ministers including Modi, about bringing back black money and handing it over to people soon.
“Modi had said that each citizen will have Rs 15 lakh if black money is brought back. Rajnath Singh had said that black money stashed in foreign banks will be brought back within 100 days. I am demanding my 15 lakh rupees. I want that 15 lakh rupees to reach to my pocket, to your pockets. None of these promises were fulfilled. People want to know why did the BJP leaders misled them. Never before the issue of black money was used politically as it was done in the last five years by BJP and its affiliates including Yoga Guru Ramdev,” Maken said.
Daring Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, activists Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi to launch agitation against the government on the black money issue, Maken said he wants to tell them that the NDA government has misled them.
“Yesterday’s affidavit demolishes the dreams of millions of people, whom the BJP had promised a lot on the black money issue…I want to tell them that they should launch an agitation against those who have misled them on the issue otherwise their own credibility will be finished. BJP had told them that they will bring back black money within 100 days. As promised neither the black money is coming, nor names are being disclosed. Even Rs 15 lakh to each citizen is not in sight. Where are those agitations on the issue which were seen during the UPA regime?,” Maken said.
Accusing BJP of having “politicised” the issue, Maken cited purported statements of Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar about bringing back black money stashed abroad and also released names of 17 countries with which DTAA were executed during BJP’s tenure from 1998 to 2002.
Quoting paras from page number 12 and 18 of the government’s affidavit, the Congress leader said: “Mr Law Minister, Congress wants to know from you whether your explanation of law is different when you were a law minister and when you are an opposition leader. People of the country want to know why did you mislead them then.”
Maken said on page number 18 of the affidavit, the government has argued that ratings of India will come down if they disclose the names of black money account holders.