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A Rs 30.67 crore Income Tax department notice to the Aam Aadmi Party on Monday triggered a political row with Delhi's ruling party terming the move as "bogus" and "political vendetta" by the agencies of the Modi government.
The Congress and BJP, however, asked the AAP to come clear on the issue and alleged that the party had failed to live up to its self-proclaimed standards of transparency and probity.
Slamming the notice, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the action of the I-T department was the "height of political vendetta".
Kejriwal said in a tweet:
In the history of India, ALL donations to a political party have been declared illegal. All these were accounted for and shown in books of accounts. This is height of political vendetta— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 27, 2017
AAP also held a press conference and said it had maintained a record of every donation.
"The I-T Department has declared the complete amount of donations we received as illegal and has put it under the category of taxable income although we have maintained the records of each paisa that we received from donors," AAP treasurer Deepak Bajpai said.
The I-T notice said the AAP had not disclosed income of Rs 13.16 crore and that its total taxable income was Rs 68.44 crore for 2014-15 and 2015-16. It also said the money received as the donation in its bank account had not been recorded in the account books.
The notice also said that AAP had not recorded full details of 461 donors who had given a total of Rs 6.26 crore, each donation amount exceeding Rs 20,000.
The AAP was also accused of not disclosing the donations on its website.
"The latest notice to the party was served on November 23," a senior I-T official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IANS.
The official also said that the notice was sent after assessing all the tax records of the party and was part of routine tax assessment and not a vindictive action.
The official said that AAP has been asked to file its reply to the latest notice by December 7 and added that the party had been given 34 chances earlier to explain allegations that it had concealed details of some of its overseas donations.
Bajpai said AAP had been keeping and maintaining books of accounts and other documents (of contribution in excess of Rs 20,000) under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act.
"We have been submitting reports to the Election Commission about the donations received as per the law," he said.
"The whole country knows how other parties finance themselves through black money, yet it is AAP which is being targeted using different agencies. This shows that the I-T notice is nothing but a vindictive action," he said.
Another party leader, Raghav Chadha, tweeted:
Only political party that maintains 100% propriety, transperancy and compliance in it's funding being targeted yet again.Centre's vendetta comes out as an all-out war on this political toddler called AAP as they declare all our donations illegal.— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) November 27, 2017
Suspended AAP leader Kapil Mishra, however, hit out at AAP by tweeting:
Because you submitted different details to EC, different one to IT and caught taking hawala money.— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishraAAP) November 27, 2017
You misused your experience as income tax officer.
पर तुम भूल गए सत्य और ईश्वर की ताकत को। https://t.co/JVarZGVMra
He demanded that the Centre should hold a thorough probe into the funding of AAP following the I-T department's notice.
"Instead of indulging in blame game, AAP should satisfy the law authorities on the notice served to them. It is time Arvind Kejriwal comes clear on the financial issues or he should be prepared for the party being written off by people," Tiwari said.