Income Tax summons to Congress leaders spark tensions in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh

According to key state Congress sources, around 100 leaders in MP (mostly including winning and losing candidates of the party in the 2018 assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls), have received the summons.
Income Tax Department
Income Tax Department (Photo | PTI)

BHOPAL: Income Tax department summons to Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders in connection with the proceedings of a case related to the party, have sparked political controversy in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.

According to key state Congress sources, around 100 leaders in MP (mostly including winning and losing candidates of the party in the 2018 assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls) have received the summons.

Some of the leaders summoned by the IT Department to Delhi, include first time MLA from Jhabua-ST assembly seat Dr Vikrant Bhuria (son of former MP Congress chief and ex-union minister Kantilal Bhuria) and Devashish Jarariya, who was the runners up from Bhind-SC Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 national elections.

“The summon seems to have been issued to me just to trouble me, as I’m among the Congress’s potential candidates from the Bhind-Datia SC seat for the coming LS polls. There is no case against me, so why this summon to appear before the Department in Delhi on February 13? I’ll comply with the summons and on returning from Delhi, I’ll file a complaint with the police against the IT department under the SC/ST (Atrocities) Act for harassing a Dalit politician like me,” Jarariya said.

The summons which have been issued to Bhuria and Jarariya among other MP Congress leaders have identical content. It asks them to be present at the IT Department office in Delhi (DCIT Central Circle-19 Delhi) later this month in connection with proceedings under the IT Act in a case of the Indian National Congress. Intentionally skipping summons may invite the imposition of Rs 10,000 penalty on the Congress leaders.

Reacting to the summons, state Congress Chief Jitu Patwari said on Monday, “The IT Department’s summons to the Congress leaders in MP and elsewhere are being issued at the behest of the BJP-led central government with political motive of pressurizing those leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, which are just few months away."

“Whenever there are elections, such disgusting acts are orchestrated by the ruling BJP. Just before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls also, the IT department had acted against the Congress leaders in MP under pressure from the central government. That action was challenged in the court and the matter is still pending, as the IT department has failed to furnish the relevant documents before the concerned court. Similar action is now being initiated by the IT department against our leaders just before the 2024 national elections,” he said.

The MP Congress president questioned why the IT department hasn’t summoned those Congress leaders who are now with the BJP and are either MLAs or ministers in the current regime.

“This selective action exposes how the IT department is actually acting like a political party to create sensation and denigrate people associated with a particular political thought. The central government is using agencies like the ED and Income Tax department to pressurize our leaders to join the BJP. Some selfish leaders have already buckled under pressure and joined the BJP to serve their business interests,” he alleged.

Just a few hours before Patwari talked to journalists over the issue, many Congress leaders from central MP and Bundelkhand joined the BJP. The prominent Congress leaders, who switched sides, included Vidisha District Congress chief Rakesh Katare and former Congress MLA from Tikamgarh district Dinesh Ahirwar.

However, ruling BJP MLA from Sagar district Shailendra Jain responded to the allegations, “Even I’ve received IT department summons in the past to appear with relevant documents and books of accounts, which I’ve done and haven’t suffered any harassment. Why is the Congress raising hue and cry instead of respecting the summons, only those who get worried by such summons have much to hide?”

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