The Income Tax department has issued summons to senior Congress party leader Ahmed Patel under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act for alleged violations of Section 13A which deals with exemptions for political parties with conditions, reported the Indian Express. Patel, who currently holds the post of the treasurer of the All India Congress Committee, was sent summons for alleged undeclared party collections and election expenses totaling over Rs 550 crore.
It is noteworthy that last year, just before the general elections the IT Department had raided 52 different places spread across Bhopal, Indore, Goa and New Delhi. Subsequently, similar raids took place in October 2019, and as recently as February 6, 2020 in Hyderabad, Vijaywada and other locations. During the February raids, 40 locations connected with an enterprise called Megha International Infrastructure Ltd., were searched. The IT department first issued summons on February 11, asking Patel to appear on February 14. When he didn’t, summons were issued again on February 18.
Patel told the Indian Express, “Such contributions are received by every political party and I will respond to the summons soon, probably after the upcoming Parliament session.”
The total calculation of alleged violations is pegged at Rs 400 crores as per summons issued to the party in October 2019. As far as additional receipts to the party from persons searched in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Cuddapah, Visakhapatnam and Delhi on February 6, 2020, the IT Department alleged it had detected siphoning of more than Rs 2,000 crore and a part of this had been paid to the Congress party, reported the Indian Express.
Allegations of corruption are not new in politics, and parties of all hues and political leanings have faced a myriad of such accusations. Many top leaders have also been convicted and imprisoned. What is also common is for the ruling regime to use all resources including government machinery to go after and destabilise political rivals. What is noteworthy here is that Ahmed Patel is a close confidant of Sonia Gandhi herself. In fact, after P Chidambaram slipped out of their fingers, Patel was the next big catch. BJP had hitherto been taking potshots at Congress’s politics, alleging dynastic succession and elitism. Now it is going after the party’s financial resources, forcing it into a choke-hold, gasping for breath.