Dares him to spell out names of account holders in Swiss banks

Stepping up the pressure on UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, Bharatiya Janata Party MP and lawyer Ram Jethmalani on Saturday challenged Mr. Mukherjee to disclose the names of people whose money was stashed away in foreign banks.

“I will ask Mr. P.A. Sangma [the NDA’s Presidential candidate backed by the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal] to withdraw his candidacy if Mr. Mukherjee is willing to name names,” said the 88-year old parliamentarian, speaking to reporters here.

Endorsing Mr. Sangma’s personal integrity, Mr. Jethmalani acknowledged that Mr. Mukherjee could win, as it was merely a game of numbers. But he cautioned that the Presidential race could still throw up surprises.

Dubbing Mr. Mukherjee a “wrecker of the Indian Constitution,” Mr. Jethmalani commented he could not be entrusted with the task of preserving it.

In an open letter to Mr. Mukherjee, sharply censuring his political conduct during his career with the Congress, Mr. Jethmalani upbraided the former Finance Minister for not being able to repatriate the black money held in Swiss bank accounts. He added that the adjudication proceedings against alleged tax evader Hasan Ali had not yet been completed by the UPA government.

The French and the German governments were willing to share information but Mr. Mukherjee and his UPA government made no effort to obtain it, thereby protecting powerful criminals who controlled the government.

Flaying Mr. Mukherjee’s conduct during the 1975 Emergency, Mr. Jethmalani accused him of fervently colluding with Sanjay Gandhi in the excesses committed. He also accused Mr. Mukherjee of tailoring policies in the 1980s to favour a particular corporate group close to the Congress.

“His ideological veering towards crony capitalism had been exposed by a former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) member. His name had cropped up in the rice export scam and the Scorpene deal case as well as the Navy war room leak during his tenure as the country’s Defence Minister. And this is the person we are going to elect as President,” he said, adding it would be a shame if Mr. Mukherjee made it to Raisina Hill.

Mr. Jethmalani said he had also written to Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee urging them to consult their conscience before supporting a particular candidate.

While the Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party have announced their support for Mr. Mukherjee, the Trinamool Congress is still sitting on the fence.

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