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Advani promises to bring back money from Swiss banks

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

L K Advani

Asks PM to raise issue at G-20 summit.

Adding to his list of pre-poll promises, L K Advani, prime-ministerial candidate of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), today said he would bring the Indian money deposited secretly in Swiss banks and other tax havens across the world back, in case his party got a chance to rule the country after the next Lok Sabha elections.

Advani, who announced this as the BJP stepped up its campaign for the coming elections, also asked Prime Minister to discuss the issue at the G-20 summit, which he is going to attend in London on April 2.

“If the people of India elect a BJP-led NDA government in May 2009, we assure the nation that India will join the global effort to put an end to banking secrecy and intensify it by every means — diplomatic, political and economic — to get back the real sovereign wealth of our country,” Advani said in a statement.

He said the return of Indian money deposited secretly with banks abroad — which was estimated to be about $1,400 billion (Rs 70,00,000 crore) — would be a key issue in the BJP’s campaign. The party plans to conduct mass opinion polls on the issue on April 6, the foundation day of the party. Also, he said, the chief ministers of all the BJP-ruled states would write to the prime minister on this.

The BJP’s idea is to link the plank of “Indian money in foreign banks” with its agenda for development during the campaigning. The BJP leader said the “estimated Indian wealth in foreign banks is enough to relieve the debts of all farmers and the landless; is sufficient to lay highways and roads across the country; provide Rs 4 crore to each of the 600,000 Indian villages, etc.”

To emphasise the BJP’s seriousness on the issue, Advani even announced his proposal to set up a national task force which would be entrusted with the task of outlining an action plan for seeking return of the Indian money from abroad. The proposed task-force would comprise R Vaidyanathan of IIM-Bangalore, S Gurumurthy of the Sangh Parivar, lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani and former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval.

“The BJP sees in secret banking the RDX that has the potential not only to blow up national financial systems but also to support and fund global terror networks whose attacks on India increased during the UPA regime,” Advani said.

The BJP leader accused the government of not pursuing the German government’s offer to all countries to avail of the information it had got from the Swiss government on some 1,400 secret accounts. He asked the PM to follow the line taken by the United States and other Western nations, which are facing economic recession, to seek details of secret accounts of Indians from these banks.

First Published: Mon, March 30 2009. 00:19 IST