‘Rs 115 crores is still frozen’: Congress’ Ajay Maken refutes ‘relief’ claims

Image Source : PTI Ajay Maken

The Congress on Friday said Income Tax authorities had frozen its main bank accounts, impacting all political activity. However, the accounts were later de-frozen by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal pending a further hearing next week. Party leader Vivek Tankha, who appeared before the tribunal against the order, said the party was now allowed to operate its bank accounts. The tribunal will hear the matter next Wednesday before a final decision is taken on the matter. Tankha said he told the tribunal that the Congress would not be able to participate in the “festival of elections” in case its accounts remain frozen.

However, treasurer Ajay Maken refused to the claims of ‘any relief’. According to Maken, “This 115 crore is the lien marked in the Bank Accounts. We can spend an amount over and above that. This means that Rs 115 crores have been frozen. This Rs 115 crores is much more than we have in our Current Accounts.”

Earlier in the day, Maken said the Income Tax department had frozen the Congress’ main bank accounts on “flimsy grounds” and this affected all political activity of the party barely two weeks before general elections are announced. The accounts, including that of the Indian Youth Congress, were frozen on an Income Tax demand of Rs 210 crore for 2018-19, an election year, Maken said at a press conference.

According to him, the party filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a few days late and that is why this action. He said the IT authorities’ orders freezing the accounts had come on Wednesday.

Maken said four main bank accounts were frozen. Sources later put the number at nine.

The party was unable to use even the funds received under its crowdfunding scheme, Maken said at the press conference and alleged 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 said while addressing a presser.

‘There won’t be any elections in the future’

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post on X, “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. “This is a deep assault on India’s Democracy,” he added.

The unconstitutional money collected by the BJP would be utilised by them for elections, but the money collected by the Congress through crowdfunding shall be sealed, the party president said. “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,” the Congress president said.