BJP pledges trust in cash, not ‘cashless’

<b>The Prime Minister is speaking in favour of cashless economy but documents that surfaced on Tuesday seem to indicate that BJP, contrary to its earlier claims, paid in cash for plots in Bihar</b>

Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

Land deed records were produced on Tuesday by the Janata Dal (United)—part of the coalition government in Bihar—to prove that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had indeed paid in cash in the weeks preceding demonetisation on November 8 to purchase plots of land in Bihar. The BJP had trashed the allegation first made last week by claiming that all payments had been made through cheques and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) between banks.

The fresh allegations and the new set of documents surfaced hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party on Tuesday morning. Responding to allegations that the decision to declare ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes illegal was leaked out to select people within the ruling party in advance, the Prime Minister asked all BJP MPs and MLAs to submit details of their bank transactions between November 8 and December 31 to BJP national president Amit Shah on January 1. However, the allegations made by JD(U) are about transactions that took place in the weeks before the demonetisation decision.

Contrary to BJP’s claims, however, documents tweeted by JD(U) show cash transactions of ₹17.8 lakh on October 18, ₹48.75 lakh on September 7 and ₹49.5 lakh on September 19. The payments were made on behalf of BJP President Amit Shah to purchase land at Sitamarhi, Kaimur and Araria respectively. National Herald, however, has not independently verified the authenticity of the documents.

The Bihar Legislative Council was adjourned after a bout of slogan shouting by JD(U) and Congress legislators who alleged that the BJP had turned its ‘black money’ white. JD(U) MLC Neeraj Kumar told National Herald on phone, “ We are demanding that BJP reveal the source of the money and how and when it was transferred from New Delhi to Patna and from Patna to the districts.”

Claiming that the BJP had earmarked ₹1,900 crore for buying land and constructing offices throughout the country, the JD(U) MLC referred to the statement given by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi who had claimed that land could not be purchased in cash. “As far as I know land is purchased by paying in cash but rarely in such high denominations,” said Kumar. Also it was impractical to transfer such huge amounts of cash to the districts, he pointed out. “That such high amounts were sent to the districts itself raises both suspicion and questions,” Kumar added.

High value transactions in cash require not just the declaration of PAN card but also clearance from the Income Tax department certifying that returns tallied with the cash claimed to have been retained by parties.

Significantly the Finance Bill of 2015 had made changes in the Income Tax Act, Indian Stamp Act , Indian Registration Act etc to enforce payment through banks for purchase of immovable property including land and houses. It was also made mandatory for the Registrar to report to the Income Tax authorities any transaction exceeding ₹30 lakhs. Even cash loan or deposits of amounts exceeding ₹20,000, it was proposed, would attract harsh penalty. The new Section 269 was to become operative from June, 2015.

However documents released by the JD(U) included an authorisation by Amit Shah dated February 16, 2016 authorising Dr Dilip Kumar Jaiswal, state treasurer of the BJP to purchase land and immovable property in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party. The party also released photo copies of sale deeds of plots mentioned earlier.

The documents record that the sellers had received the full and final amount agreed between the buyer and the seller in cash. Does the Prime Minister plan to also address transactions like these by party office bearers which took place just before demonetisation?

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Published: 29 Nov 2016, 4:15 PM