Black money charges against Chidambaram is Congress's 'Nawaz Sharif moment': Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman

"I am starting by wondering if for the Congress party, in India, we are seeing a Nawaz Sharif moment, wherein a former minister, a senior one at that, who held very important portfolios such as Finance and Home is being investigated upon for not disclosing his foreing assets, partly or fully, held probably in one country or more than one country".

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a blazing attack against senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and said that the ongoing black money probe was the "Nawaz Sharif moment" for the Opposition party. Notably, the Defence Minister was referring to the Pakistan Supreme Court's decision disqualifying its former prime minister from holding office because of non-disclosure of assets and income earned overseas.

She further said, "Chidambaram didn't disclose its investments to the tax authority, violating Black Money Law, which was brought by Modi government as part of its drive against black money and to prosecute those Indians who have secretly stashed illicit wealth overseas". It can't be an oversight.

Citing media reports on the I-T Department's chargesheet against the Chidambarams for non-disclosure of assets held overseas, 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".

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BJP chief Amit Shah wondered whether this was the reason the Manmohan Singh government "dragged their feet" on the formation of a Special Investigation Team to probe black money stashed overseas. Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera hit back at the minister and said Ms Sitharaman took U-turn after agreeing to make public the rate of 36 Rafale jets. P Chidambaram's family has been booked under Black Money Act for illegal assets in several countries and for operating illegal foreign bank accounts.

"The buzz in Delhi is that Ms Nirmala Sitharaman will be removed as Defence Minister and appointed as lawyer of the Income-tax department". The BJP leader had added that the law on black money was brought in by the Modi government because it had pledged before the last Lok Sabha elections to fight unaccounted for money held in India and overseas. "How could they indict their own selves", said Shah.

The Income Tax department on May 11 filed charge sheets against Chidambaram's wife Nalini, son Karti, daughter-in-law Srinidhi and a firm under the Black Money Act for allegedly not disclosing their foreign assets. They claimed that the offshore accounts and investments were duly mentioned in their income tax returns. His name cropped in 2016 in the Panama Papers investigation.

She also talked about Nawaz Sharif's latest revelations where he admitted that militant organisations are active in Pakistan and his country could have averted the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

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