BJP Government’s U-turn on black money abroad… and Accountability!

BJP Government Speaks the Truth to the SC: Cannot disclose names of people having black money abroad.

During the Lok Sabha Elections 2014 campaigning and before, Narendra Modi and his party kept promising the people of India of bringing back the black money within 100 days of its rule. At some places, Modi even claimed 30 days. Its fringe organizations and sympathizers kept circulating the fake lists containing the names of the Black money holders in Swiss banks, claimed to be released by the Switzerland Government.

Now, more than 100 days after forming the Government, the Modi government has told the Supreme Court that it cannot disclose the names of people having black money stashed abroad. It is not saying so on the basis of hundreds of fake lists that circulated on online social media (as the Switzerland Government never handed over such lists to India). The new Government is saying so because there’s no treaty between the Switzerland Government and India regarding the disclosure of Black money in Swiss banks. The Modi Government Attorney has given the same reason, the UPA Government gave during its tenure: The names cannot be made public as it violates the double taxation avoidance agreement.

The government says that the names can only be shared with concerned agencies.

Petitioner and senior lawyer and former BJP leader Ram Jethmalani has accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to protect people with black money. The apex court has agreed to hear the government’s plea on October 28.

The BJP Government’s U-turn or literally disowning what it said only three months ago is not surprising. As any Black money stashed in Swiss banks belongs to rich and powerful people. The rich and powerful can belong to any political party. That apart, you can’t tell a bank to disclose the amount of money belonging to any particular person. If you can’t compel a bank in India to disclose the money a person has in his Indian bank account; how on earth you can compel a foreign bank do the same. The banks the world over work on the same secrecy clause.

BJP can never bring back the black money from Swiss banks. The substantial portion of this black money belongs to rich people and businesses. The corporates, who are often accused of laundering black money abroad. The same group which funds both BJP and Congress. Actually what Congress kept saying all this while regarding Black money in foreign banks was the fact. The BJP told a big lie during last two years. Yesterday, what its lawyer said in the Court is the Truth.

Even when we believe Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s argument that the Swiss banks have promised to consider disclosure if the Indian Government does investigation, even then the black money exposed will be a small portion of what is believed to be stashed in Swiss banks. Under this light, BJP’s earlier claims of bringing back the entire black money are proved as a lie.

Who’s accountable ?

Black money stashed abroad was one of the top poll issues taken up by the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. To assist BJP, fringe groups spread all sort of propaganda towards, during and in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha Elections. All this makes it hard for the people to make the BJP Government accountable. For instance, one of these Hindutva fringe groups will beat young people on Valentine’s Day, and the BJP which is the main player of Hindutva politics goes scot-free. In simple BJP may keep benefiting from the acts of its fringe groups, and still disown them.

A Lack of accountability is not going to help the citizens. After all the entire edifice of democracy is based on accountability.

On the question of Black money itself, the BJP spokespersons and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are blaming Congress of inking the double taxation avoidance agreement. The fact of the matter is, it’s the BJP which promised the Nation to bring back the black money. Firstly, the party must not have made that promise if it later had to blame the Congress. Secondly, the double taxation avoidance agreement with Switzerland is not something which is made to protect anyone. In a free World, where companies are multinational , the double taxation avoidance agreement is a norm rather than an exception. If BJP can support Vodafone on the irrationality of retrospective taxation, then it must also support every individual’s right of safeguard against double tax (paying tax on the same money, twice).

The BJP spokespersons and leaders are trying to make the double taxation avoidance agreement a villain, when it has nothing to do with bringing back the black money.