The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came under strong Opposition attack in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday for its failure to fulfil its election promise of bringing back black money stashed away in foreign banks within 100 days of its coming to power.
The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Trinamool Congress, the Janata Dal (United) and the Samajwadi Party criticised the BJP for politicising the issue of black money during elections. Later, even before Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley completed his reply to a short-duration discussion on the issue, these parties staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction with the Minister’s arguments.
“I refrain from making it a UPA [United Progressive Alliance] versus NDA [National Democratic Alliance] debate because the issue is far [more] serious than that,” Mr. Jaitley said. “The UPA government was moving in a particular direction and when the NDA government took over, many things were half-baked.”
Referring to the Opposition targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his electoral promise of “bringing back black money in 100 days and distributing from it Rs. 15 lakh to each household,” he said: “Members have to decide whether we want to debate the issue as an unfinished election speech or whether we want to make efforts to punish the guilty.”
Asserting that the government would “proactively chase” those having black money and “will not rest” till the last account was identified, he said the process would take time as it was linked to international procedures and pacts that India had signed and would enter into in the “changing world scenario.”
“The issue is not whether to disclose names of black money account holders but when and how to do it because the offence is committed in India, the money is Indian but the evidence is outside India. There is a prescribed international procedure that we have to follow and we will give the details to the SIT which will give its report to the Supreme Court. Indian laws, if need be, will be strengthened,” he said.
The identity of 427 foreign bank account holders out of the list available with the government had been established and 250 of them had admitted to holding foreign bank accounts.