The Aam Aadmi Party found itself in the middle of yet another controversy last month, when the Income Tax department claimed to have unearthed undeclared income worth Rs 130 crore in a tax raid conducted at AAP MLA Kartar Singh Tanwar's residence.
In his affidavit submitted with the Election Commission ahead of the 2015 Delhi Assembly election, Tanwar had declared assets worth Rs 17.64 crore — of which immovable assets were Rs 7.69 crore and movable assets Rs 9.95 crore. His fleet of cars cost Rs 72 lakh, reported Firstpost's Debobrat Ghose.
On 27 July, the I-T department conducted raids at the Chhatarpur MLA's residence, office and farmhouse and also at the residences of his brother and domestic help.
Unaccounted cash and jewellery of about Rs 1 crore was seized from Tanwar and his brother, along with papers corresponding to the transactions made by the MLA.
“Searches have revealed several illegal transactions by Tanwar, who bought land and farm houses in Chhatarpur and adjoining Ghitorni. All these were done through cash transactions and more than 30 companies were floated for the purpose,” an I-T official privy to investigation told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.
Many people in Chhatarpur call Tanwar a ‘land shark’, who has amassed great wealth by buying and selling land, especially farm houses.
The I-T investigation, comprising searches, scrutiny of documents and questioning of the MLA twice by tax sleuths, revealed important details of Tanwar’s alleged transactions.
Most of Tanwar's major transactions were done through cash, which consequentially carried no tax as there was no proof of these transactions taking place. Moreover, to avoid paying stamp duty and registration fee, Tanwar allegedly used power of attorney to buy and sell land and farm houses. He amassed most of his wealth through benami properties.
Tanwar, a first time MLA, worked as a junior engineer at Delhi Jal Board (DJB). He contested municipal election for the first time from Bhati ward in 2007 and became a corporator. He again contested in 2012 and won with a bigger margin. He was a BJP leader before joining AAP in 2014.
AAP's initial reaction this latest allegation was not surprising. The party alleged political vendetta and claimed it was a witch-hunt by the BJP-led central government..
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had said in July, “Modiji, you deploy the CBI, Delhi police, IB, ED and Income Tax, but we will keep doing our work.”
Incidentally, AAP’s political affairs committee members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, in 2015, had questioned the dubious background of 12 AAP candidates, but were later expelled from the party. They went on to form the Swaraj Abhiyan party. Till now, FIRs have been filed against 12 AAP MLAs, of which 11 have been arrested under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Even though individual party members have spoken in support of Tanwar, AAP till now, has not issued any public statement regarding the case. AAP's silence seems quite uncharacteristic, as in the past, the party has not refrained from vocalising its claims against perceived injustice.
Following the arrests of AAP leaders in July, Kejriwal had made a very strong statement against PM Narendra Modi and BJP, claiming that the Centre was trying to send all AAP MLAs to jail on false charges. He stated that the Income Tax department, Delhi police and CBI were all after AAP, and were working on the directions of a 'mastermind'.
"Going to jail is a very small thing. We will have to take it for granted that all our MLAs will have to go to jail. Apart from imprisonment, anything can happen to us," he said. "If you are ready to face all the difficulties, then support us," Kejriwal had.
He even said that Modi is frustrated and angry. "Two days after they target and arrest our MLAs, those MLAs are released. He has not been able to prove anything against AAP. Even the courts have told the police that they are indulging in politics," Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal went ahead and even alleged that the Modi government may try to get him killed.
These allegations against AAP and its members have come at a critical time when the party is planning to make inroads in Goa, Punjab and BJP stronghold Gujarat. However, now that Kejriwal is back from his vipassana course, it remains to be seen how the Delhi chief minister will put out this fire.
With inputs from agencies.
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Updated Date: Aug 11, 2016 16:27:51 IST