Congress Claims Income Tax Authorities Freeze, Then De-Freeze Congress’ Bank Accounts Amid Election Season

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Congress Claims Income Tax Authorities Freeze, Then De-Freeze Congress’ Bank Accounts Amid Election Season

| Updated: February 16, 2024 14:24

The Congress party announced that its main bank accounts had been frozen by the Income Tax authorities, severely impacting all political activities. However, the accounts were later de-frozen by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, pending a further hearing scheduled for next week.

Party leader Vivek Tankha, who represented the Congress before the tribunal, confirmed that the party has now regained access to its bank accounts. He expressed concern to the tribunal that the Congress would be unable to participate in the upcoming “festival of elections” if its accounts remained frozen.

Earlier in the day, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken revealed that the Income Tax department had frozen the party’s main bank accounts on what he termed as “flimsy grounds”. This action came barely two weeks before the announcement of general elections, disrupting all political activities of the party.

Maken disclosed at a press conference that the accounts, including that of the Indian Youth Congress, were frozen due to an Income Tax demand of Rs 210 crore for the fiscal year 2018-19. He explained that the party had filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a few days late, which led to this action. The orders to freeze the accounts were issued on Wednesday.

According to Maken, four main bank accounts were initially frozen, but sources later reported the number to be nine. The party was unable to utilize even the funds received under its crowdfunding scheme, leading Maken to allege that democracy was in danger in the country.

“For the first time in the country’s history, accounts of the principal opposition party have been frozen by the tax authorities on flimsy grounds, barely two weeks before the announcement of general elections,” Maken told reporters.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge echoed these sentiments in a post, stating, “Power drunk Modi Government has frozen the accounts of the country’s largest Opposition party – the Indian National Congress – just before the Lok Sabha elections.” He added, “This is a deep assault on India’s Democracy.”

Kharge further alleged that while the BJP would utilize unconstitutionally collected money for elections, the funds collected by the Congress through crowdfunding would remain sealed. He warned, “That is why, I have said that there won’t be any elections in the future. We appeal to the Judiciary to save the multi-party system in this country and protect India’s Democracy.”

Echoing the party chief, Maken appealed to the judiciary to safeguard democracy, warning that the country is headed towards a “one-party democracy”.

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