Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks on the black money issue, being construed as an indication that a minister in the erstwhile UPA government could be among those who have stashed away money in a foreign account, has triggered a war of words between the ruling BJP and the Congress.
On Tuesday, in an interview with NDTV , Mr. Jaitley said the Congress would face some embarrassment if the names were made public. The Congress accused the government of resorting to “selective leaks.”
Asked whether he was not denying that a UPA Minister could be in the list of those with an overseas stash, Mr. Jaitley told Times Now television news channel: “I am neither confirming nor denying, I am only smiling….”
Accusing the government of resorting to “blackmail”, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken told the media that without being vindictive or selective, the government should take action against those named in the list.
“It is a worrying development if the BJP is trying to avoid delivering upon the promise, a major pillar of the BJP campaign in the hope of which the people of India had voted them to power,” Mr. Maken said, pointing out that the BJP government had sought modification of the Supreme Court order in July 2011 order, directing the government to reveal the names.
Mr. Maken also criticised the government’s purported decision to reveal only 136 of the 800-odd names, asking for disclosure of all the names.
India received information on account-holders with LGT bank (Liechtenstein) from German tax authorities in March 2009. Two years later, the government received names of 782 people who had accounts with the Geneva branch of HSBC bank, leaked by a former bank employee named Hervé Falciani.