Congress Minister urges EC to probe release of Rs two crore to BJP

The model code of conduct says that during elections, transactions of more than Rs 20,000 should be done through cheques.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express illustrations

BENGALURU: Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda on Sunday went hammer and tong against the Income Tax department, specifically the officer who released Rs 2 crore cash belonging to the BJP, that was seized during a raid by election staff.

He urged the Election Commission of India to conduct a probe into the incident. “It is the first such case in the country that a decision was made at lightning speed and an order issued to release the cash. It’s a surgical strike on democracy,” he said at a press conference.

Meanwhile, Munish Moudgil, MCC Nodal Officer, Bengaluru Urban district, has maintained that the seized cash has not been released, and an FIR was registered on Sunday. “...the cash remains seized by Karnataka police and the case is under investigation,” says a press release. The Income Tax authorities have not found ground to seize the cash for IT violation, it added.

“BJP leaders illegally transported Rs 2crore cash that was seized by election officials in Cottonpet on Saturday afternoon. Income Tax officials were also informed about this. However, the IT authorities gave a clean chit and in just four hours, passed an order to return the money to the BJP. How could this be possible?” he questioned.

He alleged that BJP leaders are misusing officials and conducting elections in a manner that is an insult to the system.

The BJP, with some documents, claimed that it drew Rs 5 crore from Canara Bank on March 27 and kept it, and said the money was being sent to Mysuru, Chamarajanagar and Mangaluru as election expenditure of its candidates, Byre Gowda said. “Chamarajanagar BJP candidate has already accounted to the Election Commission that Rs 57 lakh has been spent, Rs 70 lakh was spent in Mysuru and Rs 50 lakh in Mangaluru. Now if Rs 2 crore is added, won’t the ceiling of election expenditure of Rs 95 lakh for each candidate be exceeded? Did IT authorities investigate this?” he questioned.

He also questioned the authenticity of the documents BJP produced to reclaim the seized money. “Did BJP not spend a single rupee on elections in the past month? If we also transact like this, will you waive all our transactions?” he said. He also raised the issue of physical transaction of money when digital transfer is possible, and pointed out that there is a law that monetary transactions above Rs 50,000 must be done through bank account or cheque.

The model code of conduct says that during elections, transactions of more than Rs 20,000 should be done through cheques. “It is unfortunate that officials did not pay heed to the law. Isn’t it money laundering to transfer Rs 2 crore in violation of the law or without prior information? Or are BJP leaders running a new money laundering racket with the help of election officials?” he thundered.

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