The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday asked Congress to clarify whether it paid Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals, which ran the now-defunct National Herald daily, saying if it was true it was violation of tax and electoral laws.
Raising questions on the basis of details provided by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Thursday, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told mediapersons that if it was true that such a transfer had taken place then it could lead to various consequences for the Congress party, including withdrawal of tax exemption.
Jaitley said he merely wanted a specific answer from the party and not adjectives like baseless and untrue as was used in a communication issued by Rahul Gandhi's office to Swamy threatening defamation case against him.
He said if the Congress party were to say that what Swamy has alleged was wrong then the matter ends. If not, then the whole issue is one of "gross impropriety and gross illegality".
The former law minister maintained that a political party can use its funds only for political purposes and not any business or financial activity.
Swamy had alleged that the All India Congress Committee had given Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals Private Limited, publisher of National Herald and Quami Awaz, which was allegedly written off by a new company Young Indian, a Section 25 Company in which Rahul and Sonia Gandhi own 38 per cent shares each.
"As prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi made an amendment to the Representation of the People Act and later the Election Commission also issued detailed guidelines which serve as a code of conduct for the political parties.
"Article 8 of the EC guidelines says all political parties will use their financial resources only for political purposes," Jaitley said, adding that this is the basis on which both the donors and the political parties enjoy income tax exemption.
Image: Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley