New Delhi: The government and the opposition indulged in accusing and counter-accusing one another over the issue of black money during a debate in both houses of Parliament.
While the Congress said the government has forgotten to honour its poll promise of bringing black money back into the country within 100 days of taking charge, the Bharatiya Janata Party said it was the UPA government which did nothing during its 10 years in office despite knowledge about it.
In Lok Sabha, party leader Mallikarjun Kharge led the charge saying the BJP attacked the UPA government on the issue and must apologise for making false claims.
His colleague Anand Sharma, while speaking in Rajya Sabha, reiterated Kharge’s points saying the NDA government has misled the people of the country and the objective of the BJP is to malign the previous government.
“Prime Minister Modi had said the money that would come back is approximately five times the country’s budget and now says he doesn’t know how much that is,” Sharma said during the debate.
He said that the UPA provided all the information on black money and the new government has said or done nothing new.
BJP in its defence attacked the Congress saying the UPA had shielded those who had stashed black money abroad and offered amnesty to around 100 individuals on the black money list.
Anurag Thakur, BJP member of Lok Sabha from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, said PM Modi was the first person to bring up black money issue in other nations and they supported him during his international visits.
“People who protected those on black money list were protesting yesterday with black umbrellas,” he said.
“Now that we have set up SIT on black money and the finance ministry is investigating issue, Congress is worried.”
He even accused a Trinamool Congress member of sending money to terrorists in Bangladesh.
There was an uproar in the house as Opposition members chanted ‘Ullu mat banao’ during Thakur’s speech and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy had to ask the Speaker to tell the Opposition to allow his party collegue to speak.
Kharge in his response to Thakur’s speech said it was the Supreme Court that set up an SIT on black money, not the BJP or the government.
The Samajwadi Party too questioned the government’s inaction with its leader Ram Gopal Yadav saying in Rajya Sabha that it should stop playing blame game and seek information on the amount of black money stashed outside and on what the investigative agencies are doing to get it back.
“The BJP before coming to power gave hope to the people by saying they will bring back black money, but what is the government doing to bring it back?” he asked.
Yadav also took a dig at Ramdev and said that when the yoga guru met Modi it wasn’t clear if Ramdev talked about black money abroad or his own black money.
Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brian too questioned the intention of the Prime Minister’s Office in bringing back black money and accused the BJP of cheating the country and failing to keep its tall poll promises.
He asked what is holding the government back from bringing the money back.
Earlier, a notice by the Congress to bring an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha on the issue of black money was rejected by speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
She, however, agreed to look into the demand of the opposition to hold discussion at the earliest on the subject which is listed towards the end of Wednesday’s agenda.
Mahajan informed the House that the adjournment motion moved by Congress leaders Kharge, M Veerappa Moily and Kamal Nath among others does not fulfil the criteria under Rule 56 as it was not a new issue as the matter has been discussed in the previous Lok Sabha.
She also said the Question Hour cannot be suspended to take up the discussion.
On the request of Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress) and Sudip Bandhopadhyay (Trinamool Congress) to take up the discussion at the earliest, the speaker said she will see to it that the debate is taken up as soon as possible though she did not give any time.
The government on Tuesday agreed to hold a debate on the much-debated issue in House after the first working day of the session saw the Trinamool Congress, Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), among others, alleging that the government had done nothing to bring back black money stashed abroad.
The repatriation of black money emerged as a key issue in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with the BJP pledging to take prompt action on the matter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had said it was moving towards repatriation of hundreds of billions of dollars in slush funds or black money stashed abroad, as part of a wider clampdown on corruption that Modi promised during his election campaign.
The government had recently named seven persons and a company facing prosecution for keeping illegal wealth in foreign banks, while submitting a detailed list of foreign account holders to the Supreme Court.
The government is believed to have built pressure particularly on Switzerland, seeking details of Indians who have parked unaccounted for money in the Alpine country’s highly secretive banks.
After coming to power, it had quickly implemented a Supreme Court directive to set up a high-powered special investigation team, headed by retired judge MB Shah, to look into the issue.
Black money arises mainly from incomes not disclosed to the government usually to avoid taxation, and, sometimes, because of its criminal links.
About a third of India’s black money transactions are believed to be in real estate, followed by manufacturing and shopping for gold and consumer goods.