The issue of black money dominated in Lok Sabha on Wednesday with the Opposition asking the government to bring back an estimated Rs. 25 lakh crore stashed away illegally in foreign banks and reveal identity of depositors.
Moving an adjournment motion on the issue, the first in the current Lok Sabha, BJP leader L.K. Advani also wanted a White Paper on the magnitude of the black money menace and steps taken by the government to tackle it.
“Tell the world that we are willing to place all the cards on the table. We have nothing to hide,” Mr. Advani told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who were present in the House.
“Reveal the names you have. It will be a humiliation if we don’t get to know them from our Prime Minister or our Finance Minister and come to know from the WikiLeaks as (its owner) Julius Assange has said he has the names and would reveal them in 2012,” Mr. Advani said.
The Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party said his party agreed with the estimate of an international think-tank -- Global Financial Integrity -- that Rs 25 lakh crore have been illegally stashed away abroad by Indians.
The adjournment motion was on the situation arising out of money deposited illegally in foreign banks and action being taken against the guilty persons. Following an agreement between the government and the BJP, the motion did not speak of “government failure”.
The BJP leader, however, insisted that the admission of the motion was itself reflective of government’s failure on the issue “no matter even if the wording of the motion has undergone a change. Adjournment motion is a failure of the government and your (Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar) acceptance only testifies my view that it the government’s failure”.
Maintaining that blackmoney stashed abroad was far more than the Rs 1.76 lakh crore involved in the biggest scam (2G spectrum allocation), Mr. Advani alleged that blackmoney generation had grown manifold since the country undertook liberalisation in 1991 when Dr. Singh was the Finance Minister.
He asked why the government was not making public the “16 to 18 names” of people who had kept unaccounted money in banks in Liechtenstein it had received from foreign governments.
“Why protect them?”
Asserting that the Swiss government was willing to reveal such names to countries which wanted to know them, he wanted to know why the government was dragging its feet on the matter.
He said France had 600—700 names of Indians who had stashed ill—gotten wealth abroad. “Do not protect them. If any name belongs to us, please reveal that too.”
The senior BJP leader also took the government to task for delaying the ratification of a 2003 UN Convention on corruption and dirty money by eight years. “Government has not been proactive in this matter, even the Supreme Court has pointed this out.”
Asking the government to declare December 9 as ‘Anti— Corruption Day’, he said all BJP MPs had given voluntary declarations to the Rajya Sabha Chairman and the Lok Sabha Speaker declaring that they had no illegal foreign accounts.
Mr. Advani asked the government to enact a law to make it mandatory for all candidates, MPs and MLAs to state that they did not have any illegal money stashed away in foreign banks.