Pranab takes potshots at Advani`s yatra

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 20:40

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday took potshots in the Lok Sabha at LK Advani`s Jan Chetna Yatra and the BJP`s declaration that none of its MPs held illegal bank accounts abroad.
In his reply to the debate on Adjournment Motion moved by
Advani on the issue of blackmoney, Mukherjee said though he
appreciated the BJP leader`s efforts it was not clear what
purpose would be served by it.

"I would like to know the outcome of the Jan Chetna Yatra
.... He undertook this arduous journey from one end (of the
country) to the other," Mukherjee said.

However, he sought to know if this exercise would make
those holding blackmoney accounts reduce their activity and
disclose their accounts details.

In another jibe at the opposition, Mukherjee said he did
not intend to "win any brownie points here and there" and
hence would not indulge in giving some fancy figures about the
quantum of Indian blackmoney abroad.

Mukherjee also took dig at the opposition and the media
for highlighting the name of a certain Swiss Bankers`
Association, saying despite all his "sincere efforts" in the
last two years, including asking the government of
Switzerland, he could not locate this body.
Virtually ridiculing the declarations submitted by BJP MPs
that they do not have any illegal money stashed away in
foreign banks, Mukherjee said, "Nobody will say he has black
money."

Several members had an amused look when Mukherjee pointed
out that the opposition charge of India signing the double
taxation treaty only in 2012 was wrong as it was signed in
September 2010. "I do not need anybody to tell me this as I am
the signatory," he said.

Referring to a judgement in a case filed by lawyer and MP
Ram Jethmalani, Mukherjee said he was "really disturbed" that
none other than a former Deputy Prime Minister and Home
Minister had quoted it when the judgement is not yet complete
as it has been sent to a higher bench.

Advani clarified later that he was aware of the status of
the judgement.

The minister said tax evaders were equally bright and
disclosing their names - as per the demand of the opposition -
would make them withdraw their money from the accounts.

"What do you achieve by declaring their names?... You say
declare money kept in Swiss banks as national assets. How do
you get it back? Shall I send forces. You can only get these
through international agreements," Mukherjee said.

The Minister clarified that no MP figured in the list of
foreign bank account holders available with the government.

"No MP`s name did I find in the list that I have," he
said.

He insisted that he agrees with Advani that an adjournment
motion is a censure of the government but conceded to it as he
wanted the House to run.

On his part, Advani targeted Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, saying the flow of illicit Indian money to foreign
banks had increased since 1991 though tax rates here are the
lowest in the world.

"After 1991, the flow of illicit money abroad has been
more.... Since our Prime Minister became the Finance
Minister," he said.

Singh is credited with ushering in liberalisation in 1991
as Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao government.

Advani also maintained that he was "unable to understand
what influence (Pune-based stud farm owner) Hassan Ali has"
which prevents the government from taking any action against
him.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 20:40

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