Hitting out at former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram over a disproportionate assets case, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said it was the Congress' "Nawaz Sharif moment" and wondered if party President Rahul Gandhi will probe the matter against one of his senior colleagues.
"For some time now, we have been hearing a lot of action by the Income Tax authorities against Chidambaram and his family. In India, for the Congress, this is the Nawaz Sharif moment," Sitharaman told the media here.
Citing media reports on the I-T Department's chargesheet against the Chidambarams for non-disclosure of assets held abroad, Sitharaman alleged that the family was under the I-T scanner for "immovable assets worth Rs 5.37 crore in Cambridge and property worth Rs 80 lakh probably elsewhere in that country, and also probably assets of around Rs 3.28 crore in the US".
She said there was a parallel in the Chidambarams case with that of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was barred from holding public office for life by that country's Supreme Court for not disclosing assets held abroad.
"In this (Chidambaram's) case, the parallels are hard to miss. Therefore, I am wondering if the Congress President -- who himself is also out on bail in a financial matter -- will comment and tell people if he is going to investigate one of his senior leaders (Chidambaram) for not disclosing assets held abroad," said Sitharaman, a senior BJP leader.
Sitharaman's comment came after the Income Tax department informed a special court in Chennai that Chidambaram's wife Nalini, son Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi didn't disclose their foreign assets and investments while filing their income tax returns.
As per the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, not disclosing foreign assets and investments invites a heavy penalty, besides a jail term of up to 10 years.
The Minister pointed out that time was given to people to disclose their assets abroad but still the Chidambarams did not comply.
"It cannot be an oversight. They cannot say that the chartered accountant forgot to disclose it. He held a very important portfolio, and not one but several of them... a Minister forgets to state his assets abroad," she said.
Sitharaman also spoke on Nawaz Sharif's admission on Saturday that Pakistan terror outfits were behind the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. She said that India strongly believed that the handlers of that attack were in Pakistan and Sharif's remarks vindicated India's stand.
On November 26, 2008, 10 armed Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists sneaked into Mumbai through the sea and carried out coordinated shootings and bombings in Mumbai, killing 166 persons.
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