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Congress receives fresh I-T notices of over Rs 1,800 crore, slams BJP for 'financially strangulating oppn parties during polls time'


NEW DELHI: The Congress on Friday said it has received fresh notices from the income-tax department, asking it to pay Rs 1,823.08 crore, and accused the ruling BJP of indulging in "tax terrorism" to financially cripple the opposition party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Adressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here along with Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, party treasurer Ajay Maken alleged that the BJP is in serious violation of income-tax laws and said the I-T department should raise a demand of more than Rs 4,600 crore from the saffron party for such violations.

Ramesh alleged that through the "electoral bonds scam", the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has collected Rs 8,200 crore and used the route of "pre-paid, post-paid, post-raid bribes and shell companies".

On the other hand, the BJP is engaged in "tax terrorism", he alleged.

"Efforts are being made to financially cripple the Congress, but we are not going to be cowed down," Ramesh said.

He asserted that the Congress's campaign for the upcoming parliamentary polls will continue and the party will take its guarantees to the people of the country.

"We will not be scared of these notices. We will be more aggressive and fight these polls," the former Union minister said.

Maken alleged that the Congress and other like-minded opposition parties are being selectively targeted by the I-T department, which he described as the BJP's "frontal organisation".

The I-T department has launched a premeditated, diabolical campaign against the Congress by reopening matters of old returns on baseless grounds, he said.

Maken said the Congress will approach the Supreme Court soon over the I-T department's demands from it.

Meanwhile, while addressing the media earlier today,, AICC general secretary in-charge of the organisation, K C Venugopal, lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led BJP government and accused it of trying to "financially strangulate" the opposition parties during the election time.

"Usually, the political parties are exempted from paying taxes. However, this penalty is in the name of delay in filing returns. The Narendra Modi government is doing this with the specific purpose of bankrupting the Congress party at a time when we are facing elections," Venugopal said.

He said as per the notice, the Congress has been asked to pay Rs 1076.35 crore as penalty and Rs 692 crore as interest.

"They are attacking the opposition parties using the government mechanism. This is a move to butcher democracy," Venugopal added.

He said a nationwide protest will be held tomorrow and the day after as the BJP was "exploiting" the central agencies to target the opposition parties.

He also claimed that the BJP too has not paid any returns, but they were safe from IT Department notices.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday had rejected petitions by the Congress challenging the initiation of tax reassessment proceedings against it for a period of four years by tax authorities.

The High Court said that the pleas were dismissed in terms of its earlier decision refusing to interfere with the opening of reassessment for another period.

The present matter pertained to the assessment years 2017 to 2021.

In the earlier petition, which was dismissed last week, the Congress party had challenged initiation of reassessment proceedings pertaining to the assessment years 2014-15 to 2016-17.

On March 22, the high court, while rejecting those pleas, said that the tax authority had prima facie collated "substantial and concrete" evidence warranting further scrutiny and examination.