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Cong dismisses Assange claims, BJP for probe
WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange's made remarks on Tuesday about the Indian black money stashed in Swiss banks.
New Delhi: While Congress on Wednesday dismissed WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange's remarks about the Indian black money stashed in Swiss banks, saying it will not join issue with individuals or comment on "hearsay", BJP alleged the UPA government was not making any effort to bring it back despite being pulled up by the Supreme Court.
"At the last count, there are 130 embassies and high commissions in New Delhi. If by a thumb-rule of 10 you have officers reporting back to their country, it could make 1300 or 13000 reports in a week or a month."
"If you are going to allow this, what can legally be called hearsay, to determine the national discourse, then very serious questions are to be raised about the maturity of that discourse," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Tewari was responding to questions on Assange telling a news channel that he had read Indian names in the Swiss bank data and that India should pursue the issue of black money more aggressively.
"Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has responded to it appropriately and holistically both inside and outside Parliament. After what he has said, we have nothing to add or substract," Tewari said.
He also refused to comment on Assange's remark that the Indian government's response to the WikiLeaks cables was "one of the worst" in the world, saying "I do not want to join issues with any particular individual."
Speaking to reporters in Burdwan, West Bengal, after an election meeting, senior BJP leader LK Advani said "I have been stressing since 2008 that the enormous money that has been stashed in tax havens abroad, not only in Switzerland but many other places, must be brought back as urgently as possible."
"My complaint against UPA is that no effort has been made in this direction... Therefore, what the government has been told by the Supreme Court these days become more important. Two days ago, the Supreme Court had reprimanded: was the government sleeping? Why is it not doing anything about this matter?" Advani said.
He said the proposed Lokpal Bill would come up in Parliament in the monsoon session of Parliament, which is still a couple of months away.
The senior BJP leader appreciated the action taken against those involved in CWG and 2G scams.
"During this period (before Parliament's monsoon session), I expect the government to take action against the scamsters whose names have come up. Whatever has been done till now is welcome but more needs to be done," Advani said.
In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman alleged no action from the government against those stashing blackmoney abroad had made the issue a matter of mere pedagogic interest.
"From the interview of Assange, we have come to know of yet another confirmation of black money.... Information about Indian black money abroad is there for the asking... But it is astonishing that government of India has been found wanting in its efforts in this regard," Sitharaman said.
She alleged this attitude could be due to US pressure.
Sitharaman maintained BJP has been flagging this issue since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and expressed concern over the huge amount of black money kept in tax havens. Targeting the UPA government for merely forming commission after commission and promising multi-disciplinary committee, BJP said the issue was fast becoming a matter of "pedagogic or academic interest".
Recalling a recent interview of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee where he reportedly said Rs 15,000 crore of Indian black money was stashed abroad, Sitharaman said "who totalled up this figure? How many of those involved have been taken to court? Whose property was attached or taxed?"
She insisted double taxation agreements cannot be used as an excuse for not releasing the names of the accused.
The spokesperson claimed 22 names were handed over by Liechtenstein- a tax haven- to Indian government but the UPA government is silent about it.
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