Jethmalani slams Mukherjee over black money issue

Monday, February 21, 2011

NEW DELHI - Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ram Jethmalani hit out at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, accusing him of refusing to reveal information on black money stashed away by some Indians in Swiss banks.

Addressing mediapersons after the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, Jethmalani said Mukherjee had legally absolved himself from any involvement in the matter of black money.

“I am now telling you all to go and find out the protocol which has been signed in August 2010 by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister. And under that, he has given up the right to receive information. Today, the Swiss magazines are writing that they want to kill information if they (the Indian government) don’t want to receive it,” he said.

Jethmalani also hinted it was a ploy by the ruling Congress Party to protect the account holders.

Mukherjee’s earlier statement that the government cannot reveal the names of the people with accounts in the Swiss Bank had raised the hackles of the opposition.

Mukherjee also drew flak from India’s apex court for the government’s attitude on the issue.

Jethmalani also said that senior BJP leader L. K. Advani had not apologised to Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi for alleging she had black money stashed in Swiss banks, and added it was a misunderstanding.

Media reports said Advani had earlier apologised to Gandhi after she wrote him a letter expressing strong objections to accusations made by a BJP task force that she and her family had black money. The reports went on to say that Advani had replied by letter, apologising to the ruling party chief.

“Have you read the letter? By ‘regret’, he meant that she said why their denial was not considered. Her denial has been received after five years. I am sorry that the denial has not been considered. We will consider it now. It does not mean that we accepted their denial and they are innocent,” said Jethmalani.

The Swiss banks are said to have the highest deposits by Indians. This fact was exposed after the banks were forced by the US and other Western countries to disclose details of their nationals who maintain accounts with them.

According to the data provided by the Swiss bank, India has more black money than rest of the world combined.

The UK has 390 billion dollars in black money, Russia has 470 billion dollars. India tops the list with almost 1,500 billion dollars. (ANI)

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