‘When govt changes…’: Rahul Gandhi’s warning after Rs 1800 crore tax notice to Congress

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Accusing the Income Tax Department of double-standards, Congress alleged that while it has been penalised for ‘a violation of Rs 14 lakh’, the income tax authorities were completely silent on ‘Rs 42 crore violation’ by the BJP.

Hours after Congress received a fresh notice from the income tax department on Friday, party leader Rahul Gandhi warned of strict action against those who undermine democracy. He also accused the government of indulging in ‘tax terrorism’ by misusing probe agencies. Accusing the Income Tax Department of double-standards, Congress alleged that while it has been penalised for ‘a violation of Rs 14 lakh’, the income tax authorities were completely silent on ‘Rs 42 crore violation’ by the BJP and that the violations by the ruling party at the Centre entailed a penalty of Rs 4,600 crore.

When the government changes, action will definitely be taken against those who ‘murder the democracy’! And such action will be taken that no one will have the courage to do all this again. This is my guarantee,” Rahul Gandhi said in a post on X. The post was followed with a video of his press conference held on March 15 where he answered a query relating to the income-tax notices issued against the Congress and used the hashtag “#BJPTaxTerrorism” with it.

Meanwhile, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that Congresspersons are never afraid and the party would fight the elections with their full might. “Rs 4,600 Cr penalty overlooked for BJP’s Rs 42 Cr unaccounted deposit, while Rs 135 Cr penalty is demanded for Congress’ for Rs 14 lakh cash deposits by MLAs & MPs! Who is pressurising the Income Tax Department to act in this unjustified manner only against the Opposition? Why is the IT department being allowed to be used as a weapon to harass the principal opposition party – Congress! They are misusing institutions like IT, ED, CBI to subvert Democracy and belittle Constitution,” Kharge posted on X.

Giving the two examples, Kharge said that IT has now given a notice of a total of Rs 1823 Cr to the Congress party. They have already withdrawn Rs 135 Crore from Congress party’s accounts, which is a fund collected by us through crowdsourcing. “But IT did not give any notice to BJP. Despite the fact that public information of the Election Commission clearly shows that, 1297 people have deposited Rs 42 Cr to BJP in 2017-18 without mentioning their name and addresses. Congress was fined Rs 135 Cr for Rs 14 lakh deposits and its account was frozen. But in the last 7 years, this penalty to BJP, amounts to a whopping Rs4,600 Cr! Our direct question is why is BJP getting this penalty exemption? Do these IT notices dating many years ago being served right before Lok Sabha elections prove BJP’s conspiracy to capture the Level Playing Field? 1993-94 – Rs54 Cr penalty 2016-17 – Rs182 Cr penalty 2017-18 – Rs179 Cr penalty 2018-19 – Rs918 Cr penalty 2019-20-Rs490 Cr penalty,” he added.

Kharge further said that the Congress party would free the country’s institutions from the bjp-dictatorship”>BJP dictatorship.”Congresspersons are never afraid! We will fight the elections with our full might. We will free the country’s institutions from bjp-dictatorship”>BJP dictatorship,” he said.Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the party will hold a protest against the continuing tax terrorism of the “Modi government”.

“To protest against the continuing tax terrorism of the Modi Government on @INCIndia, all Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) will be holding massive public demonstrations at the state and district headquarters tomorrow and the day after. Senior leaders and party functionaries will be participating. Here is the circular issued by the GS Organisation @kcvenugopalmp in this regard, and the Background Note to AICC Treasurer @ajaymaken’s Press Conference today,” Jairam posted on X.

The Congress lost income tax exemption in 2018-19 due to extensive use of cash in the electoral process, sources said, justifying that Rs 135 crore tax recovery from the party was consistent with the provisions of the Income Tax Act. Based on incriminating material seized by the Income Tax Department during search operations, specifically in April 2019, reflecting extensive use of cash in the electoral process, assessments of the party were reopened for seven years (AY 2014-15 to AY 2020-21), sources said.

Following the assessment, demand was raised in 2021, and communications to pay demand were sent many times, they said, adding that stay applications filed by the assessee were rejected during the proceedings. Subsequently, even after 33 months of the assessment order and 10 months of the Commissioner Income Tax (Appeal) order, when the assessee had not complied with the demand raised, recovery proceedings under Section 226(3) of the Act were undertaken, sources said.

As a result, recovery proceedings to an extent of around Rs 135 crore of outstanding demand were initiated as per provisions of the Act, as the plea for stay was rejected by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and Delhi High Court. Accordingly, recovery of Rs 135 crore has been made as per provisions of the IT Act, 1961, sources said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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