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Senior BJP leader Arun Shourie addresses the media at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday. Party spokesperson Prakash Jawdekar is at right.
NEW DELHI: The BJP on Sunday said consensus was emerging across the country on retrieving Indian money stashed away in foreign banks and the Congress was finding itself isolated on the issue.
Responding to queries raised by the Congress, BJP MP Arun Shourie said leaders of the Janata Dal (United), the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party had demanded that the government act to get the names from the ‘tax havens’ and bring back the money. “Instead of quibbling, the Congress would be well-advised to explain why it has not taken any action, since even the German government had offered to furnish the names that it had obtained on its own.”
Mr. Shourie said BJP leader L.K. Advani had taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April last year, and the response he got showed that the government intended doing little except putting up the pretence of taking some steps.
“Soon after, we were alarmed to learn that a senior official of the Finance Ministry, then under P. Chidambaram, had written to the then Indian Ambassador in Germany not to press for the release of the names lest they took offence and conclude that they were being pressured. A unique opportunity has arisen only now, after the western economies have found themselves in a severe crisis,” the BJP leader said.
Quoting a communiqué released at the G-20 Summit earlier this month where the leaders pledged to act against non-cooperative jurisdictions, including tax havens, Mr. Shourie said the Congress earlier said that G-20 was not the appropriate forum for raising this issue.
“As is its custom, the Congress is trying to cover up the basic question of money which has been ‘looted’ from India and is lying in tax havens by raising questions about the precision of figures and estimates as was done in the Bofors case,” he pointed out.Dig at Chidambaram
Taking a dig at Mr P. Chidambaram for accusing the BJP of replacing the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act with the Foreign Exchange Management Act, thereby make the offence compoundable, Mr. Shourie said no one had been pressing more for the replacement of the harsh provisions of the FERA than the Congress itself. The FEMA, approved by the government in July 1998, was on the lines of the draft prepared under the leadership of the preceding Finance Minister, Mr. Chidambaram.
On the Congress statement that Mr. Advani had unwittingly alerted those with illegal money abroad to take it away from Switzerland, Mr. Shourie said these people were alerted after Germany got the names and offered to furnish these to the governments.
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